Domestic abuse reports to police have increased by four per cent in Cumbria - new figures reveal.

The Office for National Statistics said this week that 16 per cent of all crimes recorded in 2018/19 in Cumbria were domestic abuse incidents.

The previous year, domestic abuse reports accounted for 12 per cent of all crimes in Cumbria.

Cumbria police said the rise was not unique to Cumbria and that the force works hard to encourage survivors of domestic abuse to come forward and report offending.

Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Dan St Quintin, Cumbria Constabulary, said: “Domestic abuse is an issue that safeguarding agencies across the UK will deal with multiple times a day. Everyone will know someone that is impacted by domestic abuse even if they are not aware it is happening.

“I would encourage every member of the public to keep an eye out for family members, friends or colleagues. By learning the signs of abuse, you may be in a position to identify a victim and subsequently report it to police so appropriate help can be offered to that person. Domestic abuse does not only affect the victim but any children living in that setting can also suffer.

“Every report we receive is thoroughly investigated and each victim is treated respectfully and professionally.

“Reporting domestic abuse is an important step in ending abuse. I would encourage anyone that has concerns or feels that they may themselves be a victim to report what is happening so we can keep you safe, stop the abuse and bring perpetrators to justice.”

Cumbria is above the national average for reports of domestic abuse, which account for 14% of all crimes in England and Wales.

Cumbria County Council alongside partners from Safer Cumbria offers a range of services from early help through to crisis services.

A spokesman for the authority said: “Many services are county-wide, including the provision of funding to district councils to support temporary accommodation for individuals or families fleeing domestic abuse.

“The county council also contributes towards a contract with Victim Support to deliver high and medium risk support and advice services to victims of domestic abuse; empowering victims to take back control of their lives.

“Increasing awareness of domestic abuse in our communities and the support services available is a priority for the council.”

Cumbria police said signs of abuse can include:

· Injuries – a victim may have bruising, cuts or other injuries. A victim may excuse their injuries by claiming they are clumsy or give the same explanation each time.

· Stress – a victim may display physical symptoms related to stress, other anxiety disorders or depression. They may have panic attacks, or have strong feelings of isolation and an inability to cope. In more extreme cases, the victim may talk of suicide or have even made attempts.

· Absent from work – a victim may be late for or off work on a regular basis, or take time off without notice.

· Personality changes – you may notice personality changes when a victim is around their partner. They may appear to ‘walk on eggshells’, or be jumpy and nervous

· Low self-esteem – a victim may express or display low self-esteem or lack of confidence regarding their relationship or life in general.

· Lack of money – a victim may never seem to have any money because their partner is withholding it from them to control them.

· Stops socialising – a victim may regularly make excuses for not going out with friends, or suddenly pull out of social meets at the last minute.

· A victim’s partner might display irrational behaviour – they might be jealous, aggressive or possessive. He or she may accuse them of having affairs, flirting or may read their emails, check their phone or constantly phone to check up on them.

· Unwanted pregnancy/termination – pregnancy can trigger the start of domestic abuse. This may lead a female abuse victim to be unhappy at being pregnant, not wish to continue with the pregnancy, or be forced into having a termination by her partner.

· Substance abuse – victims may use alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescribed drugs like tranquillisers or anti-depressants to cope.

· Damage to property – there may be damage to the home or even harm to the pets of victims.

· The ‘relationship’ escalates quickly – the victim and perpetrator move in together very quickly.