London: Ten per cent of people think it is acceptable to slap a cheating spouse, a survey has found.

A national violent crime study found that most adults were opposed to any violence against a loved one — but for a minority, violence was approved of under certain circumstances.

Nine per cent of adults said they approved of “hitting or slapping” a partner who cheated, while three per cent said a slap was acceptable if the wife or husband was guilty of flirting with other people.

And one in 100 said it was a reasonable response to “constant nagging or moaning”.

Generally, men were more forgiving of a slap than women.

Ten per cent of men said it was acceptable to slap your wife if she cheated on you, compared to eight per cent of women who would slap their husbands for infidelity.

The figures were revealed as part of the Crime Survey For England and Wales, which asked 38,500 people about their experience of and attitude to violence.

The survey, published by the Office for National Statistics, found younger people were more relaxed about violence towards a partner than older generations.

Teenagers aged between 16 and 19 were most likely to approve a hit or slap aimed at the cheating partner, with one in six saying it was “always or mostly acceptable”.

Among 20 to 24-year-olds the figure was 14 per cent, while among 25 to 34-year-olds it was ten per cent. Middle-aged couples between 45 and 54 were most likely to oppose violence, with only five per cent saying it was allowed.

Teenagers were also more forgiving of a slap resulting from a girlfriend or boyfriend flirting with other people. Five per cent said it was allowed, compared to just one per cent of 45 to 54-year-olds.

Last year the Home Office launched a major advertising campaign aimed at curbing abuse among young people in relationships.

The This Is Abuse campaign featured Hollyoaks couple Maxine Minniver and Patrick Blake — played by Nikki Sanderson and Jeremy Sheffield — echoing a storyline in the soap. At the time, Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said the campaign aimed to show that abuse was not just about violence, but also about “controlling and coercive behaviour”.

The Office for National Statistics found 30 per cent of women and 16 per cent of men experienced some form of domestic abuse in adulthood — an estimated total of 4.9 million women and 2.7 million men.

A spokesman for campaign group Ending Victimisation and Blame said: “Failure to include compulsory statutory sex and relationships education in the school curriculum means young people have limited opportunity to learn about healthy relationships. We hope that the government addresses the concerns as a result of the ONS statistics and that we see a determined effort towards eradicating violence against women, not just paying it lip service or using it as a political point-scoring opportunity.”

The violence statistics come on the back of a study last year, which suggested that disapproval of infidelity has increased over the last two decades.

The National Survey Of Sexual Attitudes And Lifestyles, which questioned 15,000 people aged between 16 and 74, found 63 per cent of men and 70 per cent of women say it is always wrong — compared with 45 per cent of men and 53 per cent of women in 1991.

A separate study also showed that infidelity is increasingly unlikely to be given as a reason for divorce, with fewer than one in six marriages now ending with a charge of adultery — half the level recorded in the 1970s.