THERE were fewer domestic abuse offences recorded in Dorset last year, new figures show.

Women's Aid said urgent changes are needed to improve police responses to domestic abuse as many survivors are still hesitant to report it.

Home Office data shows 8,468 domestic abuse related crimes were recorded by Dorset Police in the year to March 2023. It is a fall from 9,477 offences the year before.

Of the domestic abuse-related offences in the area last year, 7.3% resulted in a charge or summons.

Police across England and Wales recorded 889,918 domestic abuse crimes last year. It is a slight increase on the year before and well above pre-pandemic levels.

Devon and Cornwall Police is not included in these figures because of issues with its supply of data following the implementation of new force IT systems.

Looking at the 31 forces that provided data on offence outcomes, just 6.8% of domestic abuse offences resulted in a charge or summons.

Lucy Hadley, head of policy at Women’s Aid, said the numbers are "incredibly concerning".

She said: "We know from working with survivors that some of the key reasons for not reporting domestic abuse are mistrust in police, especially in survivors being believed, and fears that action won’t be taken to hold the perpetrator accountable and keen women safe.

"The very low proportion of domestic abuse crimes which currently result in arrests and prosecutions, which continues the steep declines we’ve seen since 2016, remains highly concerning."

The figures show there were nearly 51,288 domestic abuse-related prosecutions across England and Wales last year, down from 53,207 in the year ending March 2022.

Nationally, 5.1% of people aged 16 to 59 years were estimated by the ONS to have experienced domestic abuse, down from 6.1% in 2020.

A Home Office spokesperson said the Government has gone "further than ever" in protecting victims.

They said: "We have classified violence against women and girls as a national threat, setting clear expectations for how the police should respond, as well as providing funding for forces to complete specialist domestic abuse training."

They added the Government will continue to work with police and The Crown Prosecution Service.