A SHOCKING new poll shows that two thirds of those taking part had either been a victim of domestic abuse or know someone else who has.

The Inverclyde Council's Citizens Panel, which gathers views and changes in trends over time, turned the spotlight on the violence against women for their most recent survey.

Local police figures included in the report show there were nearly 900 incidents in the district in the last year alone.

Senior police officers have reacted by urging victims to find the courage to speak up.

Chief Inspector Debbie Reilly said: "It is not a surprise to me at all that two thirds of people have either been a victim or know someone who has. "We deal with domestic incidents almost every single day.

"It is not always a crime but it is recorded and we are aware.

"For me it is positive that people are confident to phone the police and we are raising awareness.

"Often when we are called out and then arrive at a house, people then say nothing has happened - it happens time and time again.

"But we know that at some point in that house, someone was so scared that they felt the need to call the police.

"It is difficult for our officers to go away, knowing that something has happened.

"I would say, find the courage to tell us, on your terms and somewhere where you feel comfortable.

"We will always, always help and we will never walk away from someone who needs help."

The citizens panel told pollsters that they knew of emotional abuse as well physical violence.

It follows a new law introduced to specifically target 'coercive control', where someone is being emotionally or financially abused by a partner.

Chief Inspector Reilly said: "This is very positive change and all our officers are fully trained on this.

"Some of the worst cases of domestic abuse we have witnessed is the coercive control over a long period of time.

"It is positive that there is so much awareness of domestic abuse now."

The survey report will be presented to a meeting of the council's policy and resources committee this afternoon.