Law enforcers in Leeds today declare war on domestic violence – after it was revealed nearly 14,000 incidents were recorded in the city last year.
Safer Leeds – the crime-fighting partnership that brings together police, the council and other organisations – has named tackling the problem as its top priority for 2013.
The chairman, Coun Peter Gruen, said: “As an issue it has sat below the radar for far too long.
“The number of reports of domestic abuse is staggering, it’s happening right across the city – there is no geographical or class divide – and we need to get to grips with it.”
The number of reported incidents of domestic violence in Leeds rose from 11,359 in the financial year 2010-11, to 12,726 the following year and 13,970 last year.
But the true figure is thought to be much higher since many incidents go unreported.
One in four women, and one in six men, will suffer domestic abuse at some point.
Kate Barratt-Farrar, director for domestic violence charity Leeds Women’s Aid, welcomed the announcement that the issue was top of the agenda.
She said: “The Leeds domestic violence service is really pleased that it has been identified as the priority for the year.
“Leeds is renowned for its domestic violence services and we look forward to working with the partnership to build on that work.”
Making a public statement of intent for the first time, Safer Leeds has named domestic violence as the most pressing of five key priorities for 2013.
Second is reducing the number of criminals who re-offend. According to the Ministry of Justice, just over 11 per cent in Leeds were reconvicted between July 2011 and June 2012.
Preventing child sexual exploitation is the third priority, with police having identified 138 under-18s in Leeds as at imminent risk of being groomed for sex.
Targeting problems caused by so-called ‘legal highs’ and cannabis is fourth on the agenda.
In Leeds last year, there were 1,770 recorded offences of possession of cannabis – a drop of two per cent. But possession with intent to supply offences rose 13 per cent, from 150 to 170.
More than 350 cannabis farms – containing 25 plants or more – were found in the city in 2012.
Improving support for crime victims is Safer Leeds’s last priority.
Supt Keith Gilert, who heads Safer Leeds, said: “The work that goes on daily across the partnership is hugely important in reducing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and protecting the vulnerable.”