HAMPSHIRE police abandoned 93 per cent of cases regarding allegations of coercive or controlling behaviour amid the first year of the pandemic, figures reveal.

Data published by the Office for National Statistics shows Hampshire Constabulary logged 477 allegations of coercive or controlling behaviour during 2020-21.

This number was down from 489 the year prior – but different figures suggest most cases will never reach a courtroom.

Of the 392 cases closed by the force in Hampshire during 2020-21, 93 per cent were abandoned due to difficulties gathering evidence, while just 25 ended with a suspect being charged or summonsed to court.

Southampton abuse prevention charity Yellow Door says these figures are "disheartening."

A spokesperson said: "It is very disheartening to read the latest figures stating that 93 per cent of cases are dropped due to lack of evidence.

"It’s difficult to know the full story behind these figures, but we do know it can be extremely difficult to prove coercive and controlling behaviours particularly where there is no physical evidence such as electronic communications.

"At Yellow Door, we believe the best solution lies in prevention – supporting local people to understand the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship, warning signs, and how to get help.

"If anyone in Southampton is experiencing control or coercion, we would urge them to ring the PIPPA helpline on 02380 917917.

"It is available Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4.30pm. We can discuss your concerns in confidence, and refer you to the most suitable local service. It will be your choice whether you involve the police.

"We also have a Domestic Abuse Team who deliver a variety of support programmes for adults, children and young people who have experienced abuse (including coercion and control) and are looking to recover from its impacts and break the cycle of ongoing abusive relationships."

Abusers can be jailed for subjecting a partner or family member to controlling behaviour such as isolating them, exploiting them financially, depriving them of basic needs, humiliating, frightening or threatening them.

Daily Echo: Hampshire Constabulary abandon 93 per cent of coercive control crime investigations in 2020Hampshire Constabulary abandon 93 per cent of coercive control crime investigations in 2020

Home Office figures state more than nine in 10 investigations closed nationally in 2020-21 were dropped due to evidential difficulties, while just four per cent resulted in a charge or summons being issued.

According to Hampshire Constabulary, there are many reasons why a case could be abandoned.

Chief Inspector Beth Pirie said: "There are often cases where we have not been able to capture enough evidence to charge someone and this is what we are trying to improve upon, as well as building trust with victims.

"It can also be challenging because some victims blame themselves, or do not see themselves as victims; the control a perpetrator exerts over their victim is subtle and doesn’t always involve violence which makes it hard to see.

"We know that victims disengage with investigations either because they ashamed, or they’re concerned about the consequences of reporting their partner.

"Therefore, we know that it takes a huge amount of courage for victims to make reports. That’s why we are committed to improving our response, identifying perpetrators and getting justice for more victims.

"We are ensuring our commissioned services provide ongoing support to victims through the criminal justice process or when trying leave abusive partners.

"We also have Domestic Abuse Champions, who are an invaluable asset to the force’s ongoing improvement in service and commitment to protect and support all victims of domestic abuse."

The force recently committed to a Domestic Abuse action plan with the Crown Prosecution Service to improve outcomes for victims of domestic abuse to help bring stronger cases going to court and bringing more offenders to justice,

Chief Inspector Pirie said: "We recognise the devastating impact of domestic abuse on the course of a victim’s life, their experiences and their future and we want those affected to be able to access justice.

"Tackling perpetrators of domestic abuse is a priority for Hampshire Constabulary.

"Over the last year we have refreshed our training with frontline officers and staff with the tools they need to recognise coercive and controlling behaviour.

"The training focuses on improving our first response and how to obtain best evidence."