A CAMPAIGN urging victims of domestic abuse not to suffer in silence has been hailed as a major success as it enters into its final phase.

The initiative in the Hambleton and Richmondshire areas has focused on the devastating effect domestic abuse can have, regardless of age or gender.

Since it was launched 12 months ago, there has been a 27 per cent increase in reported cases of abuse.

In the eight months to December 2004, 250 cases were dealt with by police. Twelve months, later, that had risen to 318 cases.

Reports by men have risen the most -more than doubling between 2004 and last year.

Statistics show that one in four women and one in six men will suffer at some point in their lives.

During the year-long project, headed by Hambleton Community Safety Partnership, posters depicting abuse have appeared throughout the area.

The campaign began on Valentine's Day last year, focusing on heterosexual relationships, and draws to an end this Valentine's day highlighting same-sex relationships.

Posters will appear in GP surgeries, leisure centres and libraries next week with contact details for those seeking help.

Partnership chairwoman Rosemary Taylor said: "This campaign has been one of the longest and most successful run by the partnership.

"We set out to highlight one of the country's hidden crimes. So many people are victims, but feel unable to seek help and escape from it.

"No one deserves to suffer at the hands of their loved ones - to live in a home of fear.

"Seeing a large leap in reported cases in our region over the last 12 months is a huge step forward in our determination to reduce instances of this crime."

A leaflet detailing useful numbers for people suffering from abuse, as well as information on how to get out of relation-ships quickly, has been prod-uced.

The red and white leaflet is available in district council offices, police stations, surgeries, health centres, hospitals and leisure centres.