West Mercia’s Police commissioner, John Campion, has been taken to task by Oswestry Town Council member Duncan Kerr, who asked Mr Campion what steps he would take to help victims and survivors of domestic abuse.

The police and crime commissioner was guest speaker at the town’s annual meeting at the Guildhall on Wednesday.

Councillor Kerr, a Green Party member, said: “What steps are you taking to stem the rising tide of misery from the dramatic increase in reports of domestic abuse.

“According to Government statistics one in four women and one in six men will be a victim of domestic violence at some point during their life.

“In spite of this we have seen the closure of the refuge in Oswestry and fears for the financial stability of the remaining services for victims and survivors.

“I understand that in Shropshire there was a 22 per cent rise in complaints last year alone, it had previously doubled in just four years.

“There is no local evidence to suggest that this is entirely due to increased reporting.

“The comparative rate of domestic violence recorded crimes in West Mercia is higher than North Wales, Manchester, South Yorkshire and West Midlands and on a par with the Metropolitan Police.

“Neighbouring Dyfed-Powys has a level which is half of ours.”

The councillor called on Mr Campion to make the abolition of domestic abuse and violence against women in all its forms a major priority.”

“Instead of using up your energy on the takeover control of the fire service, would you focus instead on reducing the misery felt by the thousands of victims of domestic abuse?” he said.

Mr Campion said: “I do see domestic abuse as a priority and the police see it as a priority.

“There has been an increase in the recording of instances of domestic abuse, which is different to an increase in reporting.

“The recording of these crimes are much better than it has been before.”

Mr Campion said that as well as caring for the victims and survivors of domestic abuse the police were also working with the perpetrators

“We are working with the small number of repeat perpetrators to change behaviour,” he said.

“There needs to be a change in the law to make it compulsory for offenders to engage with perpetrator programmes.

“We need to break the cycle of offending.”