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Saturday, 27 December 2014

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1,000 cases of domestic violence spark Cumbria police concern

Police in Cumbria were called out to almost 1,000 domestic violence incidents in the seven week period that included Christmas and the New Year.

DCI Mike Forrester photo
DCI Mike Forrester

More than half of the violence being reported – 498 of the 950 call outs – were drink fuelled, say police.

Throughout the same period, 286 people were arrested and a total of 315 crimes are now being investigated.

In December alone last year, 612 domestic violence attacks were reported to Cumbrian police – compared to 552 over the same period in 2011.

A senior officer in the force today expressed concern about a rise in reported domestic violence, but suggested the figures may reflect a greater awareness among victims that the police will help.

The force launched a campaign in mid-December to raise awareness of the help available to victims.

Officers are looking into whether the increased level of reporting of domestic violence is evidence that the Cumbrian push has struck a chord with victims.

Detective Chief Inspector Mike Forrester said: “We know domestic violence can be chronically under-reported so although an increase in violence of any kind is very worrying, the rise may also be encouraging if it means that more people had the confidence to pick up the phone and ask for help.

“What is very concerning – although not that surprising – is that more than half of the incidents police were called to had escalated as a result of too much alcohol.

“Sadly, alcohol is an all-too-common factor in many crimes and abusive relationships in our county.

“Many people don’t know when they’ve had too much to drink; they lose control and don’t know when to stop.

“Domestic violence is a very serious issue. It’s a crime that can have chronic health implications – not only on the victim, but also on children or wider family members.”

He said that the force was committed to helping victims.

Richard Rhodes, the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Domestic violence is an appalling crime.

“I praise every individual who has come forward and reported domestic violence for the courage it takes.

“I have included domestic violence as one of the key areas in my draft Police and Crime Plan so that it remains a priority for Cumbria Constabulary. Only by all partner agencies working together can we make a real difference.”

Domestic violence survivor Emma Wilson, 31, from Cleator Moor, hit the headlines when her former partner David Heslop, 37, was jailed indefinitely for attempting to murder her, stabbing her six times.

She only survived her injuries, which included punctures to her lung, stomach, and diaphragm, thanks to the prompt intervention of police and paramedics.

She said she was shocked by the number of domestic violence call outs, but said they showed victims are now seeking help.

Emma urged victims to get help sooner rather than later – and to never tolerate any level of domestic abuse.

She said: “At the first sign of anything violent, you should just walk, for your own safety and for your kids if you have them.

“Just don’t tolerate it. There should be tougher sentences for perpetrators."

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