Charity chief's concern as only a fraction of domestic abuse cases in Northamptonshire end with someone being charged
Police vow: 'Officers will continue to work tirelessly to track down anybody responsible for this heinous crime'
Domestic abuse crimes soared in Northamptonshire over the last six years with more than 12,000 recorded during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, figures show.
Nearly 850,000 such crimes were reported to police across England and Wales last year — but charity Women's Aid says that is merely "the tip of the iceberg."
Rates for many other crimes dropped during a year that included coronavirus restrictions and national lockdowns, yet domestic abuse rose by six percent nationally.
Home Office data shows Northamptonshire Police recorded 12,385 offences in the 12 months from March 2020, making up one-fifth of all offences recorded during that period.
That is the equivalent of 16 for every 1,000 people in the area, up from 14 the previous year.
And the area has seen an 83 percent rise in domestic abuse offences since 6,770 were logged in 2015-16, when records began.
The data shows women are disproportionately more likely to experience abuse and they have accounted for more than three-quarters of those killed in domestic homicides since 2018 nationally. One woman was killed in Northamptonshire in that time.
Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women's Aid, said to tackle domestic abuse, society must work together to tackle the "inherent sexism and misogyny which underpin women's inequality and violence against them".
She said: "Women will not report domestic abuse if they aren’t confident they will be believed and action will be taken on their behalf.
"We all have a part to play in unlearning sexism."
The figures suggest most cases of domestic abuse will not see perpetrators charged, with just seven percent of cases concluded in the county last year resulted in a charge or summons.
Ms Nazeer said work was needed to restore faith in policing after more than three-quarters of investigations were dropped due to evidential difficulties nationally – more than half because the victim pulled out of investigations.
In Northamptonshire, 83 percent of cases were closed due to problems gathering evidence in 2020-21 and 48 percent abandoned because the victim did not wish to support the investigation.
Chief Constable Nick Adderley has made domestic abuse one of his policing priorities alongside tackling knife crime, anti-social behaviour and serious organised crime.
He said: "We are targeting repeat victims and continuing to take action against offenders and reduce victimisation.
"In addition, more officers – including all new recruits – will be given dedicated training in this area to raise awareness across the board."
In Northamptonshire, Police made 331 domestic abuse-related arrests during a month-long campaign run to coincide with football's European Championships — including a number of 'most wanteds'.
Detective Inspector Mark Hopkinson, from the Domestic Abuse Team, who led the campaign said: “My officers will continue to work tirelessly to track down and arrest anybody responsible for this heinous crime which has such devastating consequences for victims, children and often the wider family too.
“We know many incidents go unreported. Nobody should have to live in fear and I urge victims to come forward.
"We work closely with statutory and voluntary agencies to ensure anyone who suffers domestic abuse gets the help they need.
“There will no doubt be victims who haven’t reported offences which happened during lockdown and I urge them and anyone suffering from domestic abuse to call their local police on the non-emergency 101 or, in an emergency, always call 999.
"You can also call the national 24-hour domestic abuse helpline on 0808 2000 247 or if you're deaf or hard of hearing, use our textphone service on 18001 101."
■ Visit the Northamptonshire Police website for help and advice on domestic abuse.