CIVIC chiefs have launched a campaign to ensure victims of domestic violence receive the help and support they need.

Banners urging people not to suffer in silence and providing details of the Hampshire Domestic Abuse Service have been attached to dustbin lorries in the New Forest.

The vehicles operate out of all three depots run by the district council, ensuring the message is seen across the Forest.

Nationally an average of two women a week are murdered by a current or former partner and three women take their own lives after suffering domestic abuse, often over a long period.

New Forest Post:

Domestic violence around the world has soared since the start of the coronavirus lockdown, with the United Nations describing it as a "shadow pandemic".

Cllr Diane Andrews, the council's cabinet member for community affairs, said: "Providing information is one of the key priorities to enable victims to make positive choices and increase their ability to live free from harm."

Domestic violence across the UK is thought to have increased since the start of the lockdown because women are stuck in the house with abusive partners.

Calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline has risen by almost 50%.

The government has launched an awareness campaign called #YouAreNotAlone and MPs are calling for an urgent cross-party action plan.

Explaining the background to the New Forest campaign a council spokesperson said: "The development of banners highlighting services available to residents of the New Forest is an additional way of raising awareness and enabling people to call for support.

"Although we haven’t recorded an increase in incidents locally it is an important message to share at this particularly unusual and difficult time when people will be spending more time at home together.

"The Safer New Forest Strategy and Delivery Group recognises the harm and vulnerability of victims from domestic abuse and is committed to providing help to those most in need.

"The partnership continues to make progressive steps in supporting victims and assisting partner agencies with addressing the offending behaviour of perpetrators through preventative programmes."

New Forest Post:

A Hampshire Constabulary spokesperson added: “We are aware that for some people, staying at home presents its own risks where tensions are rising and where they may be suffering domestic abuse.

"Unfortunately we have seen a small increase in domestic abuse reports since the Government’s restriction measures were put in place, compared to the same period last year.

“However, policing has not gone away during this pandemic.

"We want to reassure the public that we are still very much here to help them, and that there is a lot of support available if they require it on a local level.

“If you are being abused, call police on 999. All 999 calls are received by BT call handlers who will direct them to the requested emergency service. If the caller doesn’t request a service but the call handler thinks someone is in danger or can hear something suspicious happening on the call, they will connect you to a police call handler.

"There are also a number of local charities and support organisations available locally, including Hampshire Domestic Abuse Service 03300 165 112 and the Victim Care Service on 0808 178 1641.

"The National Domestic Abuse Helpline can be contacted on 0808 2000 247.

"Domestic abuse is considered a serious crime and we are committed to the safety of victims and children during this time of crisis. We want you to seek and receive appropriate support when you need it.

“To abusers, do not think this is a time you can get away with it. We will still arrest, we will still bring people into custody, and we will still prosecute.”