'Our focus is to cut the risk of them becoming victims again'
NEW figures reveal police are called to reports of domestic violence in the region an average of four times every day.
A total of 658 crimes were committed in Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle and the Staffordshire Moorlands between April and October this year, up from 606 for the same period last year.
"But the real figure for the number of victims is believed to be a lot higher, with many too scared to report abuse.
The shocking list of crimes includes rape, death threats and kidnap, as well as assault and criminal damage.
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Now Staffordshire Police have launched a new scheme with Arch North Staffordshire to help victims. Officials from the charity now automatically visit victims who call police.
Superintendent Laurie Whitby-Smith, from Stoke-on-Trent Division, said Arch was a key partner on joint visits to homes. He added: "These can be after an incident, but we are also very proactive in trying to pre-empt where we think violence might be occurring.
"Victims have a different relationship with charitable organisations than the police.
"We also have an excellent relationship with independent domestic violence advisers employed by the local authority. Their focus is supporting victims through the criminal justice process."
Mr Whitby-Smith said domestic abuse was a complex issue.
"We do have instances where victims do not want to pursue a criminal prosecution," he said.
"A key issue for us is identifying where children might be suffering.
"We want people to be confident in reporting abuse to us, but it can be very difficult because of relationships and children, and it can be difficult for the police to get that confidence from victims.
"We take domestic violence very seriously and it is a priority."
The figures show domestic violence in Stoke-on-Trent has risen to 471 incidents between April and October, up from 420 for the same six months last year.
Crime in the home in the Staffordshire Moorlands is also on the increase with 73 incidents reported to police between April and October this year, compared to 57 for 2011.
But in Newcastle, domestic violence saw a slight drop with 114 crimes reported in the six months to October this year, 15 fewer than for the same period the year before.
Mr Whitby-Smith added: "The fact there has been a slight increase is not a concern, because it's about people being more confident about reporting abuse. Our focus is very much around the identification of repeat domestic abuse victims, and reducing the possibility of them being victims."
Arch opened the Sunrise Centre to help domestic violence victims in Stoke-on-Trent in October. Seventy women have been referred to the centre, which is officially launched in the New Year.
Arch director Paul Bridges said it was difficult to pinpoint why there had been a rise in domestic violence.
He added: "There are links to the economic climate and the fact that more women, and indeed men, are coming forward to report incidents. A lot more research needs to be done."