DOMESTIC abuse support referrals in York and North Yorkshire have risen significantly – with the number of requests for help increasing by 80 per cent.

It means the number of victims seeking help from community-based support services has risen by about 4,000 people since 2019.

Trained staff working as independent domestic abuse advisors, who help victims, have much higher caseloads and some have handed in their notice, a police, fire and crime commissioner meeting heard.

Police and domestic abuse support organisations have continued to support victims throughout the pandemic with calls and online services, by arranging court orders remotely and using extra government funding used to employ more advisors.

Jenni Newberry is head of commissioning at the office of the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.

She said: “Data shows that the volume of referrals into our support services significantly increased during the pandemic and referrals overall do remain very high.

“Referrals into our services have increased significantly.

"There has been an 80 per cent increase between 2019/20 and 2020/21.

"That equates to an additional 4,000 referrals.”

She said people also tend to need more intensive support during the pandemic because of other issues including court delays.

There has also been the issue that they have too often needed to spend more time with the perpetrator of the abuse during national Covid-19 lockdowns.

But a “positive” is that people have responded well to the support.

Ms Newberry said advisors have seen their average caseloads increase significantly from 56 clients in April 2020 to 76 in April 2021.

She said extra funding from the Ministry of Justice has enabled the service to employ more domestic abuse advisors.

Ms Newberry added: “We are relatively confident that we can manage these increased volumes of caseloads moving forward, but obviously there’s pressure on the system.

“We have seen [advisors] hand notice in and there are only so many trained and ready to begin service.”

Police data shows there were 3,117 domestic abuse crimes reported in York between January 2019 and June 2021

There was an increase in children committing offences against parents during lockdown, North Yorkshire Police detective superintendent Allan Harder said.

He said one reason was that children wanted to leave home when restrictions were in place and this led to arguments.

“Throughout Covid we have remained engaged and proactive to support victims of domestic abuse.

"We have worked with partners to deliver consistent services,” he added.