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Surge in domestic abuse reports in Stevenage
The number of people coming forward about domestic abuse has rocketed.

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) in Stevenage has reported a projected 400 per cent increase in domestic abuse victims coming forward.

It follows the launch of a new project, Talk About Abuse, which aims to get people talking about it and to look for signs.

Stevenage CAB staff and volunteers have undertaken training to identify instances of domestic abuse so they can provide support and advice to sufferers.

Daniel Marshall, CEO at the branch, said: "What we have been doing is an 18-month training programme for our staff.

"Clients will come in for advice, sometimes they will be debt related or to do with relationship breakdowns.

"The staff will now sensitively ask the victim if they are suffering domestic abuse.

"It is about proactively asking, not just waiting for someone to declare it."

So far, the project – which only started one month ago – has been successful, with a rise in the number of people coming forward.

It comes as Stevenage CAB claims as many as one in three people in the town may know someone who is suffering.

Last year, 39 reports were received by the charity of domestic abuse.

But 13 were received in the first month of the project alone, which would equate to 156 a year.

And the CAB believes this will rises as awareness increases.

It says that friends and family can play a key role in encouraging victims to seek specialist help.

Mr Marshall said: "Family and friends can be a lifeline of support for victims of domestic abuse.

"Those suffering from domestic abuse may feel unable to reach out for help themselves, so people who want to support them need to know the steps they can take and where they can get specialist help."

Hertfordshire Constabulary urged victims – and family and friends – to come forward.

A spokesman said: "Every day across Hertfordshire, officers attend up to 50 incidents of domestic abuse and nearly a quarter of arrests made relate to domestic abuse.

"Sadly, we do know there are people affected by these crimes, who may not have yet asked for help, and I would encourage those people to make contact."

Mr Marshall added: "What we say to people is to get in touch with us, tell friends or family, or there are a number of helplines to call.

"You can get help and support from Stevenage CAB."