MORE than 2,000 children were recorded as present at domestic abuse incidents last year.

Cleveland Police’s latest figures reveal officers recorded at least one child present when attending 2,247 domestic incidents between April and December last year.

Domestic Abuse Detective Inspector Jayne Downes said: “These figures equate to children being recorded as present at 16 per cent of all domestic abuse incidents we attended and that’s a significant percentage.

“Witnessing domestic abuse is very distressing for children. Children might see or hear what’s happening from another room, notice a parent’s injuries or be coping with the aftermath of abuse.

“We want to encourage those affected by domestic abuse or the friends and family of those affected to report it to us so we can help the children involved.”

It runs a 'Through the eyes of a child' scheme, which is aimed at getting officers attending domestic abuse incidents to record children's presence, speak to them and see how they are affected.

DI Downes added: “We recognise that often many incidents of abuse have occurred before a victim has the courage to contact us.

“It’s likely that children will have witnessed some, if not all, of a pattern of abuse and it’s only by recording that we can work with partners to address it.”

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, said: “Children are often the hidden victims of domestic abuse, witnessing horrific incidents involving the people closest to them, in their own homes.

“I invested in Operation Encompass to ensure children and young people affected by domestic abuse get the support they need once they go back to school and try to regain some sense of normality and safety, a right that every child should have.

“We must also recognise the impact witnessing abuse has on vulnerable young people and through training I’m commissioning on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), professionals have a better chance of intervening at an early stage and preventing them from becoming victims or perpetrators themselves.”