STARTLING figures released by Northumbria Police revealed there were nearly 6,000 domestic abuse incidents reported to across the area last year.

The data highlighted that 486 reports were received each month, with the perpetrator either a partner or ex-partner in 80 per cent of these incidents. Another major concern was that children were involved in 45 per cent of all cases.

However, this was just the tip of the iceberg according to Hexham-based Northumberland Domestic Abuse Services (NDAS) which supports adults and children in abusive situations.

Karen Richardson, NDAS’ service manager, said the figures would probably equate for only 40 per cent of the actual amount of incidents across the region.

She said: “The figures quoted represent only a small fraction of the real numbers of domestic abuse cases.

“It’s estimated two-fifths is all that is reported, which leaves more than half of victims either not reaching out for help or not having accessible services to meet their needs.

“The majority of our users don’t involve police or statuary agencies; they ring us directly for help. A lot of victims are scared of involving the police while some don’t even recognise it as abuse.

“It is brilliant that 500 people a month are ringing police and we do as much as we can for these people, but we are conscious there’s a lot more people out there who we don’t know about.”

Services like NDAS face constant struggles to stay afloat and it was under threat of closure early this year until funding was secured for the financial year.

But the service it provides can provide a lifeline to many vulnerable people in the area, said Karen.

“NDAS is essential to serving people struggling with domestic abuse. There’s small charities like us across the county which deliver vital services to victims on many levels and the value of our services we can provide needs to be recognised.

“We can make a real difference working together but we are very under-resourced and understaffed to meet the demand. We are carrying waiting lists which isn’t ideal.”

There is worked being carried out to tackle the high level of abuse on a national level, and the Government has recently announced plans for a Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill, which was regarded by NDAS as a positive step forward.

As part of the legislation, it was proposed for a new legal duty on local authorities in England to deliver support to victims of domestic abuse and their children in accommodation-based services.

More locally, the Northumberland Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence strategy for 2018 to 2021 was approved by the relevant boards to raise awareness of domestic violence abuse and sexual violence.

Meanwhile, the outgoing Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, secured funding until March 2020 to pilot a national scheme to offer support to youngsters witnessing and experiencing domestic abuse.

She has also championed and funded the development and delivery of the RESPECT programme across the region, in relation to Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse.

On top of that, a pilot outreach project offering counselling and therapeutic support to four to 18-year-olds living in Northumberland, who have witnessed domestic abuse, has been funded for 12 months until October.