More than 1,000 Hartlepool children witness domestic abuse

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More than 1,000 youngsters were witnesses to domestic trouble in the home according to latest statistics.

Domestic abuse in Hartlepool was down by over a third last year compared to the previous 12 months, with 780 fewer incidents reported.

The negative impact of domestic abuse on children can be devastating and long lasting.

Report on domestic abuse support services

But of the 2,166 incidents recorded, 1,046 children and young people were present at the time.

A report of a review of domestic abuse support services provided in a contract between charity Harbour and Hartlepool Borough Council said: “As previously outlined the negative impact of domestic abuse on children can be devastating and long lasting.

“Often indirect victims, children exposed to domestic abuse are at an increased risk of behavioural problems, emotional trauma and mental health issues that may continue into adulthood.”

More than half of violence against people investigated by police in 2013-14 was domestic related, accounting for 58 per cent.

And while the number of incidents overall was down compared to 2012-13, more people were arrested for domestic violence with a 261 increase in 2013-14, accounting for 15 per cent of all arrests made in town.

And 110 suspects were arrested more than once. A total of 280 were charged or cautioned, the vast majority being men aged between 25 to 34.

The report added: “Repeat offending continues to be evident. In 2012-13, 15 per cent of all offenders were repeat offenders.

“In 2013-14, this figure increased to 19 per cent.”

Six out of Hartlepool’s 11 wards experienced higher levels of domestic violence and abuse than the town average.

Victoria and Burn Valley wards recorded the highest incidents.

A review of the services provided under a contract between Harbour and Hartlepool Borough Council was carried out last autumn and winter.

As part of their contract with the council Harbour provides refuge and resettlement, outreach support, counselling, programmes for male offenders and early intervention work.

Additional pilot projects were also commissioned after service providers highlighted gaps around early intervention including a Healthy Relationships Programme in schools and targeting groups most at risk from becoming victims and perpetrators.

The contract has been extended for a further two years and the Safer Hartlepool Partnership, which involves numerous agencies including the police and council, adopted a number of proposals to make the services even more successful.

The report stated: “The service is performing well in responding to victims of domestic violence and abuse, and there is some evidence that the prevalence of domestic violence and abuse is decreasing in Hartlepool with figures obtained from Cleveland Police identifying that the number of domestic abuse incidents has decreased from 2,846 in 2011-12, to 2,166 in 2013-14.”

The review found people are more confident about reporting domestic violence and abuse and are doing so earlier.