Attacked and degraded – five women a day abused as domestic violence rises in Sunderland

Domestic violence is on the rise in Sunderland
Domestic violence is on the rise in Sunderland
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TODAY, five Wearside women will be attacked, abused and degraded by their partner.

Some will be beaten in their own home, in front of their children, while others will be humiliated in public.

During the past two years, 3,757 arrests have been made by police investigating domestic violence in Sunderland.

The figures rose from 1,822 in 2011 to 1,935 in 2012.

Now, domestic violence workers have warned that cuts to support funding are leaving already vulnerable women exposed to further abuse.

Claire Phillipson, who runs Wearside Women in Need, said: “Funding is being cut at a national level and, sooner or later, that is going to take its toll.

“When you cut services, you are also cutting direct help to people.”

Northumbria Police’s Protecting Vulnerable People Unit, based at Farringdon Police Station, has successfully arrested some of the city’s most prolific domestic violence offenders.

During the past two years, one habitual abuser has been arrested 12 times.

Detective Chief Inspector Gary Hetherington, who heads the unit, said: “We recognise the serious impact crimes like this have, not just on victims but those around them, and we have specially trained officers dedicated to making sure they have the help and support they need and that incidents are investigated appropriately.

“Having the confidence to come forward and report these incidents to police can be a huge step for victims.

“We work closely with other agencies to provide advice and support, and to make sure that the right measures are put in place to safeguard them and ensure they are supported every step of the way.”

Northumbria Police is running a domestic violence campaign – Are you walking on eggshells? – which urges victims to come forward.

The rise in arrests during 2012 indicates more women are now speaking out about their abuse.

It’s a trend Claire Phillipson welcomes.

She said: “Raw figures are often hard to interpret, but an increase in reporting of abuse – and consequent arrests – can only be a good thing.”

Northumbria’s new Police Commissioner, Vera Baird, has also pledged to make domestic violence a priority.

Wearside Women in Need is calling for stiffer prison sentences for those convicted of abuse.

Last month, one domestic violence victim criticised Northumbria Probation Service after her attacker was released after serving less than half his sentence.

Colin Campbell’s victim said she felt “sick to the stomach” after discovering the 42-year-old, who left her in a pool of blood at a Roker bedsit, had not even served two years in jail.

“It’s disgusting. Here’s someone who stabbed me so hard, so many times, I needed surgery,” she told the Echo.

“I’ve barely got over my injuries and he’s walking about, free as a bird.”

Ms Phillipson added: “One of our biggest frustrations is what is happening in the courts.

“We need to see more domestic violence perpetrators being locked up for their crimes.”