THE COUNTY’S newest MP used her maiden speech in the House of Commons to highlight domestic abuse and the lack of provision for male victims in Oxfordshire.

She also praised a county initiative to make it easier for all victims to access help and support.

Nicola Blackwood, who won the Oxford West and Abingdon seat by just 176 votes in last month’s General Election, told the Commons that domestic incidents accounted for 16 per cent of violent crime and added: “Despite the fact that most people still think of it as a women’s issue, a third of victims are men.”

The 30-year-old Conservative MP said: “Although roughly a third of victims are male, only one per cent of refuge space is available for men.

“In Oxfordshire, there is no provision for male victims fleeing domestic abuse.”

She welcomed the introduction of sexual assault referral centres but said the nearest one to Oxford was in Berkshire.

Miss Blackwood, a graduate of Oxford University’s St Anne’s and Somerville Colleges, added: “Slough is a long way to go for someone who has been brutally raped.

“To add insult to injury, my local rape crisis centre currently faces a funding crisis.”

But she said a “champions network” established by the Oxfordshire domestic abuse service was unique in co-ordinating support for victims.

She said: “There are now more than 300 champions in 60 agencies.

“They are all volunteers, all trained and they all make an enormous impact.

“As far as I am aware, it is the only network of its kind in the UK.

“I am proud to be a champion myself, to speak up for that excellent work.”

Miss Blackwood also used the speech to praise the contribution of her predecessor, the Liberal Democrat Dr Evan Harris, and described him as “one of the few politicians who never put popularity above principle”.

She described Oxford as one of the most best cities in the world, with a rich cultural heritage, and Abingdon as a beautiful market town.

But she added both were not without their problems.

“Abingdon’s fantastic location on the banks of the Thames and the River Ock has been a thorn in its side, creating difficult traffic problems and allowing terrible floods in 2007,” she said.

“As research shows, it is incredibly important to maintain our commitment to flood defences, which are far cheaper than the catastrophic results of unmitigated flooding.

“Those defences are much needed by the residents of Osney, Abingdon and nearby villages, such as Kidlington. I look forward to supporting their campaign for them.”

Afterwards, she said: “It was such an honour to have the opportunity to speak in the home affairs debate on Monday.

“I am incredibly grateful to the people of Oxford West & Abingdon for electing me to represent them and I look forward to speaking up for them on many more occasions in the future.”