Cases of domestic violence rocket

MODEL  RELEASED.    Domestic violence.  Silhouette of a woman protecting herself from a blow from her partner by holding her arms in front of her face.
MODEL RELEASED. Domestic violence. Silhouette of a woman protecting herself from a blow from her partner by holding her arms in front of her face.
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Incidents of domestic violence in Doncaster have rocketed in the past year, according to figures due to be discussed by senior councillors today.

In the last 12 months there were more than 7,500 recorded cases in the town - a rise of more than 16 per cent on the previous year’s figures.

Charity chiefs, police and council officials have all pledged to tackle the figures which paint the town as one of South Yorkshire’s domestic violence hotspots.

Doncaster Council’s Adults and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel will consider the report at a meeting this morning.

Salvation Army spokesman Captain Adrian Lee blamed the increase on social hardships and the recession.

He said: “It’s not only stress people feel when they can’t make ends meet anymore, it’s anger. You can see the tension on people’s faces. We constantly see people collapse in tears.

“Their rent may be in arrears for the first time and there are many at their wits’ end about the bedroom tax and finding extra cash when they simply don’t have it, so face losing their home.

“Add children to the mix and stress can lead to arguments and escalate. The squeeze on those with low incomes is very tough. More help is needed to support them.”

Joan Beck, the council’s director of adults and communities, said: “While socio-economic factors may play a part in escalating problems, the message must be that there’s no excuse for domestic violence and abuse. We encourage anyone affected by it to report it to the police by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency.”

She added: “There has been an increase in reported incidents of domestic violence and abuse across Doncaster over the last five years.

“This is traditionally an under-reported crime and may show that, due to the work of the Safer Doncaster Partnership, more people are feeling confident in the support provided by the council, police and other agencies.

“But the reasons behind domestic violence and abuse are complex.”

Doncaster police chief Superintendent Eddie Murphy said: “I would like a situation where there’s no crime. But that’s not going to happen, so we have to take a different approach.

“To us, success is not a case of getting someone in a cell. It is preventing it in the first place. We are working to intervene and stop domestic violence before it happens.”

Safer Neighbourhood Team tasking officer Allan Sneddon said the trend mirrors a national one.

He said: “We don’t know why domestic crime figures are up but the economic situation can’t help. This is an area with cheap housing and high unemployment.”

The statistics also brand the town as having the highest crime rate in South Yorkshire.

Figures show that, while Doncaster has shown a greater reduction in crime than the force as a whole in last 12 months, it still remains the district with the highest crime rate in the South Yorkshire Police area.

But Supt Murphy said the figures were skewed as they didn’t take into account a key number of factors. In 2005, there had been more than 43,000 recorded crimes in Doncaster - but in 2012 that had reduced to just under 23,000.

He insisted: “Doncaster is a safe place to live.”