Victims of domestic violence are to be offered more support following a shake-up of services.

The national support agency Cri wants to build on its work supporting women, men and children in East Sussex who are living with domestic abuse issues.

Although thousands of incidents of domestic violence are reported to the police every year, community safety workers fear these are just the tip of the iceberg and estimate more than 70 per cent of incidents go unreported.

Planned improvements include a new domestic violence court advocate in Hastings, a therapeutic children's service and changes to the way incidents are monitored in order to reduce repeat offences across the county.

Other changes include better funding arrangements and stronger links with adult protection staff.

The Cri county-wide domestic abuse service is jointly commissioned by the East Sussex Safer Communities Partnership.

The partnership includes representatives from councils, primary care trusts, Sussex Police, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, the Court Service and the Crown Prosecution Service.

County council lead member for community safety Bob Tidy said: "Making our communities safer and tackling domestic violence is one of our biggest priorities.

"Every three days in the UK a woman is killed in a domestic violence incident which is an absolutely appalling statistic.

"We want to reassure people who are currently using our domestic violence services and any former clients that the changes being introduced are aimed at improving services and providing more support for victims."

The new way of working within the court for the Hastings area should reduce domestic violence court waiting times.

This initiative, which is being developed after the county gained Home Office funding, includes the specialist advocate who will work with victims as they go through the criminal justice system.

Confidential advice for victims of domestic violence is available by calling 01323 414224 for people in the Lewes, Eastbourne and Wealden areas and 01424 716629 for people in Hastings and Rother.

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