Police are urging anyone suffering domestic abuse to reach out and seek help, with research highlighting the tragic impact such crimes can have.
National figures show three women per week are murdered by a current or former partner.
Recent analysis by academics, charities and victims’ groups also point to the further impact of these offences.
Figures suggest the number of women’s deaths linked to domestic abuse rises to 10 per week when suicide of people affected is also taken into account.
These national findings feed into Cumbria Constabulary’s overall approach to tackling these offences every day, with our officers helping those suffering domestic abuse all-year-round.
Due to a historical rise in offences as Christmas approaches, we are emphasising at this time of year the importance of coming forward and seeking help if you are suffering abuse.
Nobody should have to experience such offences and officers work hard around-the-clock to safeguard those at risk of abuse and to make sure perpetrators of abuse face the consequences.
Due to the busy time of year and the chance of increased incidents of abuse, we’re again highlighting the help available and pointing out that victims are never alone.
The issue at this time of year
The weeks covering the Christmas period tend to lead to an increase in reports of domestic abuse, when alcohol-fuelled nights out, the stresses of this time of year and inflamed emotions arise and combine.
Officers want people to know there is support available and they don’t have to suffer in silence.
Those who commit abuse are also encouraged to face up to their responsibilities and seek help.
These key points are being stressed during a domestic abuse campaign running this month.
Additional street patrols will run with officers briefed on key factors to watch out for to prevent violence against women and girls.
Other extra measures during this busy period include having an independent support worker for victims of domestic abuse accompanying officers on patrol.
Detective Chief Inspector Vicki Coombes is the force’s lead officer on domestic abuse.
She said: “Christmas should be a happy time and in itself this time of year is not a cause of domestic abuse.
“But environments involving high emotions and alcohol consumption can sometimes lead to violent or abusive behaviour.
“It’s shocking to think of the tragic legacy these offences can have, beyond the initial impact of the violence or coercive behaviour itself.
“That’s why we say: Nobody should ever have to suffer domestic abuse. If you’re scared at home, there is help out there.”
Working with partners in other agencies and the criminal justice system, police take reports seriously and aim to put people before the courts where they can.
According to some of the latest statistics, conviction rates at court in Cumbria for domestic abuse were sitting at 90 per cent in September, against a national average of 76 per cent. Consistently Cumbria is above the national average.
DCI Coombes said: “Tackling these awful crimes and safeguarding vulnerable people is a key priority for us.
“We take all reports seriously and we treat all cases with sensitivity.
“If you are suffering, please get in touch. We are here to help and support you.
“Even if right now you only have questions, I would urge you to contact us.”
The key aims of Cumbria Constabulary’s domestic abuse campaign are to encourage people to report abuse and to highlight the support services available.
DCI Coombes said: “Getting the right support can empower someone to take their next positive step forward.
“There is a whole wealth of support services available in Cumbria – this can include counselling, financial advice, substance or alcohol misuse or emotional health and wellbeing.”
The constabulary constantly evaluates its own response and aims to always improve the service it provides – and how it deals with domestic abuse is no different in this respect.
Since last year the force has given 750 officers advanced training to deal with domestic abuse, specifically controlling and coercive behaviour.
This is now automatically part of training for new recruits.
The force also has more than 75 domestic abuse champions – officers and staff across all ranks who promote positive handling of domestic abuses cases and give other officers support and advice.
A recent example of this was a PCSO who attended local Age Concern coffee mornings and spoke to those there about domestic abuse in later life, identification of controlling and coercive behaviour and the support available.
Training has also been given to health professionals and other partners, including local authority staff, to help them identify domestic abuse when dealing with people in their own fields of work.
The constabulary is also part of the Multi-Agency Tasking and Coordination (MATAC) process, which identifies and tackles serial perpetrators of domestic abuse.
This aims to safeguard adults and children at risk of domestic abuse and reduce offending.
Cumbria’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “Christmas is meant to be a joyous time for everyone but unfortunately this is not always the case.
“This time of year can also be stressful and occasions of excessive drinking can also be linked with increases in domestic abuse incidents and the message is clear – there is and will never be any excuse for abuse.
“It is imperative that we can all recognise signs of domestic abuse so that we can help everyone that are in abusive relationships.
“I would urge anyone who is or suspects someone is in an abusive relationship to report it to the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.
“However, I understand that not everyone wants to report to the police which is why I commission services across the county to help anyone in an abusive relationship.
“Victim Support can provide advice, information and signpost you to other services that can help; call them on 0300 303 0157 Monday to Friday, 8am-6pm or the 24/7 Supportline on 0808 1689 111. If you cannot speak, visit the website www.victimsupport.org.uk and use the Livechat.
“I would urge anyone who has suffered from domestic abuse to reach out for help – you are not alone, please don’t suffer in silence.”
There are five categories of domestic abuse:
- Physical abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Economic abuse
- Emotional abuse
How do you report domestic abuse to police?
If you have been the victim of domestic abuse, or are concerned for someone who is, you can report this by calling 101.
Always dial 999 in an emergency.
You can get more advice about domestic abuse here: Advice about domestic abuse | Cumbria Police
How do I access support services?
You can access support services regardless of whether you have reported a crime to the police.
To access support services independently, contact Victim Support 24/7 on 0808 1689 111 – or go to: cumbria-pcc.gov.uk/victim-service/
A round-up of services
Domestic Abuse Partnerships emergency accommodation. In an emergency, please contact your local council.
Copeland: e: Homelessness3@cumberland.gov.uk; t: 01946 598300 24 hours
Allerdale: e: Homelessnes1@cumberland.gov.uk; t: 01900 702660 office hours, 0300 373 3730 out-of-hours
Carlisle: e: Homelessness2@cumberland.gov.uk; t: 01228 817428 office hours, 01228 817373 / 817386 out-of-hours
Barrow: e: email@example.com; t: 01229 876599 office hours, 01229 833311 out-of-hours
South Lakeland: e: firstname.lastname@example.org; t: 01539 793 199 office hours, 01229 833311 out-of-hours
LOCAL SUPPORT SERVICES
Gateway 4 Women (Carlisle) t: 01228 212090 e: email@example.com
Women Out West (Whitehaven) t: 01946 550103/ 07516 416040 – e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Women Community Matters (Barrow) t: 01229 311102 – e: email@example.com
Freedom Project (West Cumbria) for women, men and children affected by domestic abuse – t: 01900 67167/ 07712 117986 – e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Springfield (South Lakeland). Women’s refuge support takes referrals nationwide. Community-based support available for men, women and children t: 01539 726171 – e: email@example.com; Men, women and children: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cumbria Victim Support t: 0300 3030 157 (local) Monday – Friday 9am – 6pm and 24/7 Support Line 0808 1689 111 – e: email@example.com
Safety Net for women, men and children affected by domestic abuse – Countywide service t: 01228 515859 https://www.safetynetuk.org/make-a-referral
The Birchall Trust for women, men and children affected by domestic abuse – Countywide service https://www.birchalltrust.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Referral-Form-Adult-21-22.docx
National LGBT Domestic Abuse Victims t: 0800 9995428
Mankind Initiative t: 01823 334244 and Men’s Advice Line 0808 8010327
24 Hour National Domestic Abuse freephone helpline t: 01942 262 270
National Child Line t: 0800 1111