Police launch campaign to combat domestic abuse

Police launch campaign to combat domestic abuse

Amanda Hall

Police launch campaign to combat domestic abuse

More than 20 per cent of violent crime in Windsor and Maidenhead is the result of domestic abuse.

Statistics show 23 per cent of 2,197 violent crimes recorded by Thames Valley Police between April 2011 and March 2012 were domestic abuse cases.

Police have now joined forces with support agencies and Crimestoppers to launch a campaign - Speak Out Today - to promote awareness and early intervention.

Maidenhead area police boss Chief Inspector Lee Townsend said: "Domestic abuse is a hidden crime with the majority of cases still going unreported and the key focus of this campaign is to encourage victims to get in touch."

Last year in Windsor and Maidenhead, police figures show recorded incidents of domestic abuse, where a crime has occurred, had decreased by 21 per cent compared to 2010-11.

But non-recordable incidents, where no crime has occurred, had increased by more than 11 per cent in the same period with more than 1,000 reports last year.

Sophie Wing-King, domestic abuse co-ordinator for East Berkshire, said the figures were 'encouraging'.

"Non-recordable crimes are usually incidents like serious arguments where no actual crime has taken place," he said.

"The increase in reports is encouraging and helps us to identify and support people who could be victims of abuse."

The campaign, launched on Monday, is focusing on urging victims to contact police, Crimestoppers or other agencies like Berkshire East and South Buckinghamshire Women's Aid.

But it is also urging friends, families, neighbours and colleagues to get in touch if they suspect someone is being abused.

Sophie added: "Family and friends may pick up signals indicating someone may be suffering abuse.

"Often people's characters will change, they may become withdrawn and it's about being able to understand that behaviour."

She said reports tend to peak in March and from June to August.

Visit www.speakouttoday.co.uk for details.

A mum-of-one who suffered three years of violence at the hands of her doctor husband has said she only had the courage to leave him after he threatened their son with a knife.

Sarah (not her real name) had known her husband for two years before they married in 2007, but said things began to change soon after their wedding.

"At first it was just subtle things like I had to change my clothes and take off my make-up," she said.

"But soon he stopped me seeing my friends and made me quit my job."

Sarah, who grew up in Maidenhead, said things took a violent turn when she fell pregnant and her husband began to slap her face and kick her in the stomach.

She spoke to the police in September 2010 after her husband threatened to kidnap their son. But she said she didn't want him arrested because she was still too scared to leave him.

A few weeks later, Sarah said another fight broke out after she told her husband she wanted to return to work.

He began punching her in the arm and threatened to kill her before getting a knife and pointing it at their 10-month-old son.

He was arrested at their home after Sarah called the police.

She said: "If it wasn't for the domestic violence team supporting me I probably wouldn't have had the courage to leave him."

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