Around one in three domestic abuse victims in Hartlepool are men

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More than 3,000 people were victims of domestic violence last year - with 1,000 of them being men.

The figure was released by the Safer Hartlepool Partnership as it set out its strategy to deal with domestic abuse over the next three years.

Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, says tackling domestic abuse is a top priority.

Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, says tackling domestic abuse is a top priority.

It comes as the partnership revealed that domestic abuse in Hartlepool cost at least £15million in the last year.

The latest report from the partnership revealed in 2015-16 there were 2,200 women and 1,000 men who were a victim of domestic abuse.

The report added that 700 women and 150 men had experienced some form of sexual assault in the last 12 months.

It also stated that 7,200 women and 3,400 men in the town had experienced it during their lifetime.

Lesley Gibson, chief executive of Harbour.

Lesley Gibson, chief executive of Harbour.

The figures were obtained using a range of data from Cleveland Police, Hartlepool Borough Council, Harbour Support Services and North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Trust.

The estimated cost to society of abuse in Hartlepool over the last year is at least £15million, according to the report, which works out at £165 per head of population.

The Safer Hartlepool Partnership has set out its strategy to deal with the issue which includes planning awareness campaigns, promoting healthy relationships, working with health professionals to raise awareness of domestic abuse, working on evidence-based perpetrator programmes, supporting victims and looking at the benefits of restorative justice.

Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, leader of Hartlepool Borough Council and chair of the Safer Hartlepool Partnership, said: “Domestic abuse has a devastating effect on its victims, their children, families and the wider community, and tackling it is one of our top priorities.

“A multi-agency approach is vital to try to prevent abuse in the first place, but where it does occur we must ensure that perpetrators are brought to account and accessible and effective support services are in place to help victims.

“A lot of work has already been carried out in Hartlepool to tackle this important issue but we would acknowledge that there is still much to do.

“By producing an updated three-year Hartlepool Domestic Abuse Strategy, we aim to send out a clear message that domestic abuse will not be tolerated.

“The draft strategy will now be the subject of an eight-week consultation and comments made during that period will play an important role in shaping the finalised 2016-2019 strategy which is expected to be presented to the Partnership in September.”

Cleveland Police’s Detective Superintendent Alastair Simpson said: “Domestic abuse is a key priority for the force and we prioritise our focus on vulnerable victims.

“Domestic abuse affects people across the community and it can be a hidden issue, with many people being afraid to come forward for help.

“There are financial implications associated with domestic abuse, however the highest cost is to victims, who are often vulnerable women and children.

“We must all work together to drive home the message that domestic abuse is completely unacceptable and that we will do all we can to bring perpetrators to justice.

“We want to reassure members of the public that we will provide immediate protection and will support them and tackle the perpetrators.

“We do this by working effectively and closely with partner agencies and our designated teams to ensure victims of domestic abuse are protected and that their safety and wellbeing are at the heart of all we do.”

Lesley Gibson, chief executive of Harbour – which works with those affected by domestic abuse – said: “Harbour welcomes the commitment from Hartlepool Borough Council and its partners to review its approach to domestic abuse.

“Any figures relating to domestic abuse are only ever the tip of the iceberg as most victims experience multiple incidents of abuse before they tell anyone, and even then many are still reluctant to involve the police, so they don’t feature in the crime statistics.

“Harbour welcomes continued investment in specialist services in the town to support those affected by abuse, and we welcome support from partners to work together to identify those who need help then help them to access it.

“The impact of abuse on a person and their family is difficult to calculate; it impacts on physical and mental health, it affects people’s ability to function in their everyday lives and hold down a job, it affects children in the family and can impact on their aspirations and achievements.

“The earlier we can identify that someone is affected by abuse and offer them support, the least harm will be caused, and we agree that this should be our focus in the coming years.”