Activists and a legislator are calling for a high-powered body chaired by the chief secretary to be set up to tackle domestic violence after child abuse and spouse-battering cases reached a record high last year. The Social Welfare Department recorded 763 child abuse cases last year - 23 per cent more than in 2004 and 145 per cent more than in 1996. The number of spouse-battering cases rose to 3,598 last year - a 7 per cent rise from the 3,371 in 2004 and 256 per cent more than the 1,009 cases in 1998.Yuen Long topped the list, with 133 child abuse and 581 spouse-battering cases last year. Legislator Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung said the figures showed measures to prevent domestic violence had not been effective even after the Tin Shui Wai tragedy in which a mainland mother and her two young daughters were killed at their home two years ago. Dr Cheung, chairman of the Legislative Council's welfare services panel, said domestic violence involved different social factors, including town planning. He said new towns such as Tin Shui Wai that did not have enough job opportunities or support for families were more likely to see domestic disputes. 'Instead of having toothless advisory bodies, Hong Kong needs a high-powered committee to hammer out comprehensive policies to combat domestic violence and to order different government departments to carry out the policies with better co-ordination,' he said. 'Different bureaus and departments would work more efficiently if they could be headed by Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan. Mr Hui is Hong Kong's second-highest official. [He] has the power to make orders directly and to monitor the progress of the measures.' Against Child Abuse director Priscilla Lui Tsang Sun-kai supported Dr Cheung's view. She said she was alarmed by the increase in cases of violence and warned that the official figures showed only the tip of the iceberg, with many cases remaining unreported. 'Instead of looking at the high-risk districts such as Tin Shui Wai, the government should set up a central body to protect the interests of children in Hong Kong as a whole,' Mrs Lui said. Margaret Wong Fung-yee, executive director of Harmony House, which shelters victims of domestic abuse, said she believed 99 per cent of cases went unreported. The Health, Welfare and Food Bureau said it had been taking a 'lead role' on the issue. Social Welfare Department chief social work officer (domestic violence) Pang Kit-ling attributed the rise in reports of domestic violence to an increase in public awareness and to different departments and the police spotting problems at an earlier stage. Ms Pang said the department had added two more family services centres in the Yuen Long district, which includes Tin Shui Wai, and formed a special team, including 15 social workers, to serve troubled families. There was widespread shock when mainland mother Kim Shuk-ying, 31, and daughters, Li Yin-li, six, and Li Tsz-wan, five, were chopped to death at their Tin Shui Wai home two years ago by Kim's husband Li Pak-sum, 44, who later died of stab wounds. The coroner's court in September found the mother and twins were unlawfully killed and the husband committed suicide.