The huge scale of domestic abuse in Herefordshire is revealed in shock new figures.

Offences have risen 70% in four years, with an average of around ten cases a day.

At any given time Women’s Aid are helping 30 Herefordshire women at high risk of physical harm plus another 100 or so, along with children, living in abusive households.

Four in ten violent crimes in the county is abuse related.

The steep rise in offences is not necessarily an indication of a rise in incidents. Experts say it also reflects better awareness, with more women willing to come forward as well as better reporting by police.

But they do reveal how common abuse is.

West Mercia Police recorded 15,238 domestic offences in 2018-19, up from 8,836 in 2015-16. Abuse is making up a bigger per centage of total crime. From 12% four years ago, it’s now up to 15%.

Sue Coleman, Chief Executive of West Mercia Women’s Aid, fears that ‘nothing much has changed’ over the last 30 years.

“Despite all the public condemnation, domestic abuse is as prevalent now as it was in the 1980s when organisations like Hereford Women’s Aid were first set up to find ways to keep women and children safe.

“The general public is not sufficiently aware that abuse is a massive issue and affects the lives of so many women and children.

“Maybe attitudes to abuse haven’t changed as much as we like to think they have.”

Over three months West Mercia Women’s Aid’s Helpline will receive between 750 – 800 calls to their Herefordshire Helpline number – an average of about nine a day.

Of those around half are from women calling directly for help, and the other half will be from agencies on behalf of a woman they are worried about.

She fears abuse is still under reported, and its impact is underestimated.

“Abuse has an effect on whole families. We provide a lot of services for children. It is usually mum who is abused, but the impact on the children and their development can be cumulative and life-long. People just don’t see the true scale.”