A NEW group has been formed to help victims of domestic abuse.

The group, Friends of the Crisis and Information Centre, which includes the West Dorset Refuge for women and children who are fleeing domestic abuse, has been formed to fund raise and support this new service which provides emotional support and a refuge for families leaving an abusive situation.

In 2016 Dorset Police recorded 5,259 domestic abuse crimes.

Group member Margie Savory said: "Domestic abuse is an awful crime that has a tragic and long-standing impact on victims and families, it isn’t just physical violence. It can include psychological, sexual, financial or emotional abuse including coercive and controlling behaviour.

"Often families have to leave home with only the clothes they stand up in so they arrive at the refuge needing all the basics, such as food, a change of clothes, nappies and toys."

The new group's chairman is Gill Smith.

She said: "We want to raise funds for the essentials that these families need, as well as emotional support such as counselling.

“We have had brilliant support so far from Beau Hairdressers and Fruits of the Earth who have collection boxes for toiletries and non-perishable foods and items such as clothing, toys and good quality bedding. There is also a collection box for at the Youth Centre in Gundry Lane.

"Any men or women who would like to know more about the Friends, to offer support or join the group should write to me at Gillsmith1942@hotmail.co.uk”

Martyn Underhill the Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner told the group: “Protecting people at risk of harm and supporting victims are both key themes of my new Police and Crime Plan and this includes provision for victims of domestic abuse.

"The Police in west Dorset have specially trained teams of officers who are dedicated to robustly investigating domestic abuse incidents and offer dedicated support to high-risk victims.”.

Anyone experiencing domestic abuse can call 0800 032 5204 to get help and support. Anyone at risk should call 999.