MORE than 100 domestic abusers were reported to Wiltshire Police last year for coercive control.

The relatively new offence was introduced in 2015 and includes the behaviour intended to harm, punish or frighten their victim.

Charity Women's Aid warned that domestic abuse had hit epidemic levels across England and Wales.

It came as a Wiltshire man was sentenced for subjecting his girlfriend to a terrifying campaign of abuse that culminated with him marching the woman from hospital a day after she gave birth.

Nationally, the number of coercive control offences reported to police forces has rocketed from 9,053 in 2017/18 to 17,616 last year, according to government figures.

Wiltshire Police recorded 121 coercive control offences in 2018/19. Across the south west 1,200 were logged.

Adina Claire, acting co-chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “Domestic abuse remains at epidemic levels, with an estimated 1.6 million women experiencing domestic abuse last year alone,” she added.

“Despite this, police are making fewer referrals to the Crown Prosecution Service and there has been a decrease in the proportion of female victims reporting domestic abuse to the police.

"We are calling for all criminal justice professionals to be trained in the nature and impact of coercive control, to ensure that these cases are treated just as seriously as other domestic abuse-related offences.”

Louisa Rolfe, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for domestic abuse, said the police have worked hard to improve their response to domestic abuse and that the figures showed “increased reporting and better recording".

Yesterday, we reported on the shocking case that saw Jonathan Burgess narrowly avoid an immediate prison sentence.

The 27-year-old was accused by a Swindon judge of crushing the character of a woman he had met on dating website Plenty of Fish. She swiftly moved into his family's home near Melksham.

The controlling behaviour culminated in January 2018 with the birth of the couple's first child. The authorities and the woman's family were not aware she was pregnant.

The pregnancy only came to light when he called NHS advice line 111 to ask how they could give birth to the child at home. A day after she gave birth at RUH in Bath he marched her from hospital - leaving the baby behind.

In a victim statement read to the court she described Burgess as evil. He received a two year suspended jail sentence.