DOMESTIC abuse is at the heart of more than 80 crimes a week in Cumbria, the News & Star can reveal.

From murder to violent assaults and coercive control, the horrifying impact of abusers who target their families and partners is reflected in stark statistics analysed by the N&S.

As police officers prepare to join charities and experts in a crackdown on domestic abuse, we are today highlighting the shocking scale of the crime in communities across Cumbria.

The most recent Home Office figures show more than 5,700 offences were logged by Cumbria Constabulary during 2020-21 alone.

And during that year – when national lockdowns forced most people to spend months behind closed doors – around a fifth of all crimes recorded in the area were linked to domestic abuse, the highest proportion on record.

Those crimes are among more than 26,000 to have been investigated by Cumbria Constabulary in just six years.

The majority – four in five – were violent offences, but Cumbria’s abusers have also subjected their victims to stalking, harassment and hundreds of campaigns of coercive control.

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Police estimate victims will experience more than 30 abusive incidents before reporting their experiences, suggesting that the true scale of the crime is far higher than statistics can capture.

Whitehaven News: Cumbria police

Cumbria Constabulary’s Superintendent Sally Blaiklock says there is no place for domestic abuse in the area.

Urging victims not to suffer in silence, she said: “Putting an end to this devastating crime is a priority.

“It can affect anyone, there is no stereotype and it is never the victim’s fault.

“I want anyone out there who is suffering from domestic abuse to know if they contact Cumbria police they will be taken seriously and their report will be sensitively investigated by trained officers.

“I know it is not easy to make that first report, but please contact us so we can help.”

Specialist support is available across Cumbria for victims and their families – and also for perpetrators who want to change their behaviour.

Cumbria Constabulary has consistently had one of the highest domestic abuse conviction rates nationally, according to a recent report from inspectors who also said officers were good at protecting vulnerable people.

And it is hoped that the intensive training of hundreds of police workers will improve the force’s response to what they call a “notoriously hidden” crime that can rapidly escalate in severity.

Whitehaven News: Stalking is one of the crimes police investigateStalking is one of the crimes police investigate

As reported earlier this month, the force is working with charity SafeLives to implement “long term cultural change and consistency” in its approach to tackling the issue.

Domestic abuse includes, but is not limited to, coercive and controlling behaviour, harassment and stalking, honour-based abuse and forced marriage, physical or sexual assault and psychological abuse.

Support is available via Cumbria Constabulary or organisations across Cumbria including Women Out West, The Bridgeway in Penrith and Gateway4Women in Carlisle.

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