THE number of people being declared homeless due to domestic abuse almost doubled in Bolton in the space of four years.

Figures released by Bolton Council following a Freedom of Information request revealed its housing department had registered 104 people as homeless between 2011-12. The figure had risen from 66 in 2007-08.

Over the same period the council’s financial support for domestic abuse and refuge services rose from £230,559 to £340,438. The authority said there had also been a rise in domestic violence complaints to police and at hospitals.

One local expert claimed the homeless figure was ‘surprising’ because of the work going on to help women in domestic abuse situations.

Gill Smallwood, director of services at Bolton-based domestic abuse charity Fortalice, said: “There’s far more support services in place to enable them to leave home, we’re very good in Bolton on partnership working.”

She said: “We’re always overstretched, our service is always busy and it’s always full because our service is very well known and there are a lot of opportunities for people to stop and take a look at where they are in life.”

“If someone is in this situation, if they’re in immediate danger they should ring the police first, and from there come to us for advice and we’ll look at what we can do for them.”

A council spokeswoman said: “It is difficult to say exactly why there has been a rise, but there has also been a corresponding rise in the number of people reporting domestic violence incidents to the police and at hospitals. We’d like to think that this is due to people having more confidence in reporting incidents and also that people are more aware of help for domestic violence as services have been publicised more.”

Fortalice can be contacted on 01204 365 677, its 24-hour refuge service is available on 01204 701 846.