More than one in three victims of domestic abuse are now men, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown.

It says the number of male victims of domestic abuse has gone up while the rate among women has fallen.

Approximately 1.2 million women and 651,000 men in England and Wales were subject to abuse in the year to March 2016.

It is the smallest gap between the sexes on record.

The numbers represent 7.7 per cent of all women and 4.4 per cent of men in England and Wales. Last year, these numbers were closer to 8.8 per cent of women and just four per cent of men.

However, only 1.03 million of these cases were ever reported to police, and offenders were only charged in 421,000 of these incidents.

Worse still, just 100,930 were actually prosecuted, leading to 75,235 convictions, representing just four per cent of the figure produced by the ONS.

Polly Neate, chief executive of charity Women’s Aid, welcomed the latest statistics as a means of highlighting domestic abuse, but said they failed to reflect the “true situation”.

She said the figures do not take into account “important context”, including the impact of abuse on the victim, the severity of the violence, where there were multiple incidents, or if they formed a pattern of “coercive control”.

“It would be dangerous to interpret these figures without taking these crucial factors into consideration,” said Ms Neate.

“We know that nearly half of women killed in the UK are killed by an intimate partner or former partner, compared with six per cent of men killed and not always by a woman, and we know that the overwhelming majority of victims of repeated patterns of coercion and control, are women, and that on average two women a week are killed by a partner or ex-partner in England and Wales.

“We are talking to the ONS about these serious concerns and working with them to make sure the data captured is relevant, accurate and helpful in tackling domestic abuse and ending violence against women and girls.”