Domestic violence calls to Police over Christmas and New Year in Sussex rose dramtically by almost a third, according to figures published today.
Twelve months ago, Sussex Police logged 643 incidents or domestic abuse over the feative season. This last year, a total of 982 reports of domestic abuse received, with 219 incidents recorded as crime ranging from assault to harrassment.
On New Year’s Day alone, 129 calls were received, and on both December 27 and December 29, police in the county received 82 calls on each of the two days.
This year, Sussex Police dedicated ‘Operation Cranberry’ patrols to respond to reports of domestic abuse over the Christmas and New Year period, with officers equipped with body-worn video cameras to help secure vital evidence.
Police have justified putting forward the extra resources because of the increased number of incidents. As a result, dedicated patrols were set up from December 21 to January 2, although officers will continue to respond ot calls all year round.
Detective Sergeant Hari Flanagan from the force’s Protecting Vulnerable People Branch said; “This was the fourth year that we operated these force-wide patrols, anticipating that this period would be particularly busy with calls for help, and again we were sadly proved correct.
“Throughout the rest of the year we receive an average of 55 such calls every day.
“The increase over the holiday period is often down to higher alcohol consumption, combined with families spending more time than usual with each other. Relationships which are potentially abusive may come to a head at this time.
“The increase in incident reporting this year was particularly noticeable, and we think it may be due at least in part to the fact that we have been actively campaiging, with partner agencies, to raise awareness of this issue and the support available to vulnerable people in dealing with it.
“In particular, just before Christmas, we carried out two really successful such multi-agency initiatives - our first ever 24-hour tweetathon and our first ever live web-chat, both on this important subject.
“We want people to be confident in contacting us for advice and assistance, and we see the figures as evidence that our efforts are beginning to pay off.
The incidents reported did not necessarily result in crime reports, as many concerned for example ongoing family or personal disputes where other positive action was required from our officers, such as the giving of advice and/or information on support available for specific individual circumstances.
“The important point is that our officers have become more aware of the range of support and advice our partners offer. Thanks to third party reporting officers were able to record intelligence for future purposes also.
“In addition, every case in which a crime was recorded is being followed up for appropriate investigation and where appropriate prosecution or other action, although it is too early to give definitive statistics for these outcomes.
“Early attendance by police officers using video cameras increases the chance of gaining quality evidence, not just relying on the victim’s word against their abuser.
“All agencies can help to end abuse if they are made aware of it.
“Domestic Abuse affects families and perpetrators can be parents, children and sibblings as well as partners.
“I would encourage anyone who is suffering abuse by a partner or family member to report this, if not to police, at least to a professional person or one of the agencies who specialise in providing expert support and advice.”
“Sussex Police will continue to treat all domestic abuse incidents as a priority at all times of year and to work closely with other agencies to keep victims safe.
“Although the majority of domestic abuse occurs against women, nearly one in five victims of abuse is a man.”
Anyone who is suffering any form of abuse by a partner or family member is encouraged to report this by ringing the police on 101, or in an emergency dialling 999.
In East Sussex anyone seeking advice can also call the CRI Domestic Abuse Service on 01424 716629.