THE number of crimes related to domestic abuse in the Northumbria Police area has increased by almost a third in the last year.

New figures released by the Office for National Statistics showed there were 26,567 domestic abuse-related crimes in 2018-19, up 30 per cent from 20,419 the previous year.

The figures also show a rise over the last four years of 160 per cent.

Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness said more needs to be done to tackle the issue.

She said: “The rise suggests an increased willingness of victims to come forward. It certainly indicates increased awareness around coercive control, both of which are encouraging.

“However, these figures demonstrate the true scale of the growing problem. Sadly, most domestic abuse cases don’t even come to the attention of the police.

“We need to hold perpetrators to account, challenge behaviours and prevent further abuse. More needs to be done and the police can’t do the job alone.

“My focus is on going right back to the beginning, tackling the issues that lead people to behave this way – it’s unacceptable.

“I also want victims to be aware of the help and support that is available to them throughout our region. This is something I’m building on through commissioned services as part of my Violence Reduction Unit. Nobody should suffer in silence.”

Karen Richardson, who manages the Northumberland Domestic Abuse Service, based in Hexham, said the figures showed more people were willing to come forward – but added that more needed to be done to help victims in rural areas.

She said: “The figures show that people how now got the confidence to come forward and report abuse.

“There’s a general increase in understanding about what domestic abuse looks like. A lot of people see it as physical rather than emotional and controlling.

“We have seen a steady increase. The majority of people we work with are not none to the police. There’s still a massive amount of hidden crime.

“It’s massively hidden in rural villages, where people know everybody. We have an ageing population where people don’t recognise abuse and feel they can’t get help. If you live in a rural farmhouse, there’s very little noise pollution. You can’t hear what’s going on inside.”

Karen was also quick to praise the work of the police.

She added: “The police do a really really good job, and it’s a very challenging job.

“Working with police, we have seen huge gains in victim confidence – but we need to promote our work in rural areas.”