ALMOST £13.5 million could be spent tackling domestic abuse in Hampshire after civic chiefs gave plans for a new support service the go-ahead.

The service will safeguard those threatened by abuse, or who have been a victim of it, as well as targeting those who commit the offence.

The county’s public health boss, Councillor Patricia Stallard, made the decision which will see the county council pledge £10,537,300 to the £13,459,800 fund. The office of the police and crime commissioner and Southampton City Council have pledged £2,551,500 and £371,000 respectively.

The council stated that this new scheme, due to begin in April next year, will be the “single point of access” to services to make it easier for people to get the help and support they need.

In the county last year, victim support services run by the authority helped more than 4,500 adults and children.

The authority claims that 38,000 women, 17,000 men, and 40,000 young people were affected by domestic abuse in the county during the same period.

Last month, Hampshire police even created a dedicated force to tackle domestic violence during the World Cup football competition.

Cllr Stallard said: “We know that investing in domestic abuse services makes a big difference to victims and their families – but for every victim there is a perpetrator. This is why we need to be providing support services that help victims while at the same time tackling the behaviour of those who abuse.

“Currently only a small number of perpetrators are participating in prevention and/or behavioural change programmes. Unless perpetrator behaviour is addressed, victims, be they men, women or children will continue to suffer.

“The new service will further improve the support currently available, and is part of a co-ordinated approach to tackling domestic abuse across the county.”

Other pledges by the county authority includes better support for families, a more specialised support network for children and young people, and a shake up of “crisis accommodation” to make it more suitable for all using it.

More targeted work with key groups, such as repeat and persistent perpetrators, high risk offenders and young perpetrators in the 18-24 year age category is another improvement agreed. This, civic chiefs hope, will aim to increase engagement and prevent future patterns of abuse.