POLICE have recorded nearly 20,000 domestic incident crimes in South Yorkshire in nearly four years.
Officers from across the county logged 3,333 offences between April and December last year.
Between April 2011 and March 2012, there were 4,932 crimes recorded, 5,517 between April 2010 and March 2011, and 6,058 between April 2009 and March 2010.
But Superintendent Peter Norman, responsible for overseeing the police response to domestic incidents, believes the incidents may only be the tip of the iceberg.
He said: “The British Crime Survey shows that 40 per cent of domestic violence is reported to the police - meaning 60 per cent is not reported.
“Nationally, the police get a phone call every minute about domestic abuse – 13 million calls a year from females and three million calls a year from males.
“Two women every week are murdered by partners or former partners and one man every 17 days is murdered by their partner or former partner.”
Supt Norman said recent changes to the law, meaning people as young as 16 can be charged with domestic incidents, means officers will see an increase in the number of incidents reported.
The police chief said changes to the way the police and partner organisations, including support services, work mean that victims of domestic incidents – including physical abuse – get a better service that they did in the past.
“When I first came here to South Yorkshire there was almost a postcode lottery in terms of the services available to victims – if you live on one side of one street you were eligible for one service, if you lived on the other you may not have received anything,” he said.
“There is now a more co-ordinated approach and there is now a Domestic Abuse Partnership, which goes into communities and raises awareness of the services available in the hope that people will report incidents earlier.
“Research shows that, on average, somebody reports a domestic incident after the 38th time.”
Supt Norman added: “Domestic abuse does not just cover assaults - it includes psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional harm.”
He revealed that in Doncaster on a recent weekend his officers dealt with reports of three rapes lodged by women accusing partners or ex-partners of attacking them.
Supt Norman urged victims not to ‘suffer in silence’.
He also urged people to think about the impact domestic incidents might be having on their children.
Supt Norman said: “The number of children not doing well at school and having problems, when you look into it, can be because of domestic abuse in their homes.”
* The Domestic Abuse Helpline, funded by Sheffield Council and Sheffield Domestic Abuse Coordination Team, is the gateway to domestic abuse services in the city. Ring on 0808 808 2241, a freephone number to landlines and all main mobile operators. It is operated by trained specialist staff and is open 10am-4pm Monday to Friday and 10am-7pm on Wednesdays. The helpline can also be contacted by email on email@example.com. For more information visit Sheffield Domestic Abuse Partnership