A SOUTHAMPTON MP is demanding that domestic violence is taken as seriously as Black Lives Matter.

Domestic abuse crimes soared in Hampshire over the last six years, and tens of thousands were recorded during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic.

Home Office data shows 25,791 offences were recorded by county police in 2020-21 – up 55% when compared to 2015-16.

But Royston Smith, MP for Southampton Itchen, says the subject is rarely spoken about and that more needs to be done.

Royston Smith, MP for Southampton Itchen.

Royston Smith, MP for Southampton Itchen.

He told the Echo: "Domestic violence is a stain on society. Whilst we see protests about everything from the environment to Black Lives Matter, we see almost nothing about domestic violence.

"I have no idea why it doesn't receive the same level of attention as other issues, but it is time it did."

Domestic abuse made up 18% of all offences recorded by Hampshire Constabulary between 2020-21.

That is the equivalent of 13 for every 1,000 people in the area, up from 12 the previous year.

And the county has seen a 55% rise in domestic abuse offences since 16,631 were logged in 2015-16, when records began.

Domestic violence stock image

Domestic violence stock image

The data shows women are disproportionately more likely to experience abuse and they have accounted for more than three-quarters of those killed in domestic homicides since 2018 nationally – four women were killed in Hampshire in that time.

Cases handled by Hampshire Constabulary were not likely to end with a suspect before the courts, with 7% concluding with a charge or summons.

Around 80% of county cases were closed due to problems gathering evidence in 2020-21, with 45% abandoned because the victim did not wish to support the investigation.

The National Police Chiefs' Council lead for domestic abuse, assistant commissioner Louisa Rolfe, said the "complex and entrenched societal problem" was a policing priority and highlighted an increased number of victims reporting abuse in recent years.

She said forces could still pursue cases to keep victims safe, even when they are reluctant to support prosecution but said arresting offenders was a temporary respite from the problem.

She called for a multi-agency approach to provide effective and sustainable support and solutions.