OFFENCES of domestic abuse across the Bradford district reported to West Yorkshire Police last year soared, figures have revealed.

Data obtained from the force under the Freedom of Information Act revealed a 31 per cent rise on the year before. Offences defined as domestic abuse rose by 264 in 2020, compared to 2019.

When the Covid-19 lockdown began last March, concerns were raised by charities, campaigners and politicians that the ‘stay at home’ order would lead to a big rise in domestic abuse.

West Yorkshire Police said the rise could be down to increased confidence in police, and that tackling domestic abuse was a “key priority” for police in Bradford.

The figures reveal in 2020, 12,014 offences associated with domestic abuse were recorded in Bradford district, up from 11,750 in 2019.

They included rape, other sexual offences, stalking and harassment, and violence.

The biggest rise was in stalking and harassment reports, which rose by 290 to 3,516.

In 2020, 270 rapes were reported to police, up from 206 in 2019, while reports of other sexual offences rose from 74 to 93.

Superintendent Richard Padwell, of Bradford District Police, said: “Tackling and reducing domestic abuse and protecting vulnerable people continues to be a key priority for West Yorkshire Police.

“The increase in the number of reported incidents and those arrested can be attributed to victims and witnesses feeling increasingly confident in reporting incidents to the police and other agencies, alongside our continued commitment to safeguard those in our communities.

“The cycle of domestic abuse can be difficult to break, and where there are complex relationships we know people do not often feel comfortable or confident in coming forward to the police.

“During the past year, despite the coronavirus pandemic, Bradford District Police have remained committed to ensuring victims of domestic abuse have the help and support they need. The safeguarding team in Bradford has been working closely with Neighbourhood Policing Teams to ensure they have been vigilant whilst out on patrol and on visits to provide help and safeguard anyone in need of support.”

If you are a victim of domestic violence or abuse and need help, you can call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000247. If it is an emergency, call 999.