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DOMESTIC abuse is on the up in Hampshire, latest crime figures suggest.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that a total of 25,140 domestic abuse incidents were recorded by Hampshire police during 2012-13 – a rise of 1,672 from 2007-8.

But the force says that the increase is down to better crime detection rates and its commitment to helping victims come forward.

It recorded ten murder offences throughout 2012-13 – the seventh lowest of police forces in the UK.

Hampshire police also recorded 72 firearms offences during the same period, equating to four per 100,000 people in the area.

The force had the 11th lowest number of knife and sharp instrument offences in the UK, with 365 recorded incidents.

Hampshire Constabulary says the statistics show that it is performing strongly and is in the top half of forces across the UK.

Det Supt Robert Maker, temporary head of Hampshire Constabulary’s crime standards department, said: “Hampshire and the Isle of Wight continue to be some of the safest counties of the country to live, work and visit.

"The integrity of crime statistics has recently come under scrutiny. However, we are confident that the strict audit and compliance procedures employed by Hampshire Constabulary provide reassurance that the recently released statistics on violent crime are a true reflection of our commitment to protect people from harm and our continued efforts to robustly deal with violent offenders.”

Supt Ben Snuggs added: “Domestic abuse is a key priority for Hampshire Constabulary.

“A wide variety of crimes are classified as domestic abuse-related in line with the Home Office definition. During 2013 this definition changed to include 16- and 17-year-olds and cases where coercion or control was used.

“There are many reasons why domestic abuse crimes also remain under-reported, and Hampshire Constabulary has done a lot of work this year to encourage victims, perpetrators, family members and work colleagues to speak out about domestic abuse, report it and seek help."

Sandra Horley, chief executive of national domestic violence charity Refuge, said: “Domestic violence thrives on secrecy, so no one knows its true extent.

“Refuge supports 3,000 women and children on any given day, and we know that many of them live in fear before finding the courage to ask for help.

“But these figures show that more women in Hampshire are coming forward and reporting domestic violence to the police. This is a good thing.”