The shocking truth behind domestic abuse in Sheffield

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MORE than 10,300 women and girls were victims of domestic abuse in Sheffield last year, according to shocking figures.

The statistics, released by specialist project the Sheffield Domestic Abuse Partnership as it approaches its first birthday, relate to females aged 15 to 59.

They also show there were around 6,800 victims of serious sexual assault and 12,200 victims of stalking in 2010/11, although there is an overlap between the groups.

The number of incidents reported to South Yorkshire Police has also increased, something officials put down to better recording practices and greater public confidence.

Lisa King, from the Refuge domestic abuse charity, said: “These figures are not surprising to Refuge - but the public may find them shocking because domestic violence continues to be very hidden.

“It’s also worth bearing in mind around 80 per cent of domestic violence incidents are not reported to police - so even the figures revealed in Sheffield are probably only the tip of the iceberg. I’m sure better recording of incidents will have helped to more effectively identify incidents of domestic violence.

“However, when you consider that on average a woman is beaten 35 times before she makes a call to the police you realise there are likely to be many more women suffering in silence.”

The document, to be discussed at a meeting of Sheffield Council’s Successful Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee tomorrow, says performance in dealing with the problem is “good in comparison with comparable areas”.

It also highlights savings made by having a co-ordinated approach - using a variety of agencies including specialist police, volunteers, probation service, hospitals and local women’s refuges - to dealing with domestic abuse.

Vince Roberts, interim director of neighbourhood renewal and partnerships at Sheffield Council, said: “We have strengthened our response to the needs of victims, wherever they live in the city.

“We offer specialist support, not only to victims but to children and young people who are either directly affected or see abuse taking place in their homes, to pregnant women and to people arriving at A&E.

“Recorded incidents of domestic abuse rose significantly in the last 12 months but we believe this is down to better recording by police, the unique and targeted way we have marketed the new phone number and an increased confidence in reporting by victims.

“It gives some idea of the scale of the issue in Sheffield, and as the partnership develops we will continue to improve the services we can offer.”