Police tackle festive domestic abuse

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SUSSEX Police will once again be dedicating patrols to respond to reports of domestic abuse over the Christmas and New Year period, with officers equipped with video cameras to secure vital evidence.

Domestic abuse is always treated as a priority by the force, but due to the regular increase in incidents throughout the festive season it is vital that there are adequate resources available to manage and respond to calls for urgent help.

The patrols will begin on December 23 and continue until January 4.

Last year, police in Sussex were called to a total of 898 incidents of alleged domestic abuse from December 17 to January 3.

Detective Sergeant Wendy Vodrey, from the Specialist Investigations Branch, said: “This will be the third year that Sussex Police has run a force-wide campaign and we anticipate that certain days will be particularly busy with calls for help, such as Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Victims can be assaulted by their partners or other family members and many of the incidents we have attended in the past have been extremely violent.

“The increase over this period is often down to higher alcohol consumption, combined with families spending more time than usual with each other. Partnerships which are potentially abusive may come to a head at this time.

“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.”

Every day of the campaign, teams of uniformed officers will work a dedicated shift to attend incidents of domestic abuse as their sole priority over all other types of policing incidents.

Officers working on Operation Cranberry will be kept up to date about victims who may be particularly vulnerable and offenders who may pose a higher risk. In addition to officers attending the homes of victims, the teams of specialist detectives carry out the investigations into domestic abuse crimes.

“Following the previous campaigns, officers commented that they felt the benefit of working without the constant pressure of being called to another emergency incident and this dedicated time with a victim enabled them to provide better reassurance and gather more evidence,” added DS Vodrey.

“It is a sad fact that some people experience abuse repeatedly and there will be individual cases where there is a particularly high risk of abuse occurring over the Christmas period. Officers will carry out regular checks on and visits to high risk victims identified by specialist investigators, thus helping keep them safe and reassured in the knowledge that Sussex Police actively seek to prevent repeat abuse.

“Behind the statistics are personal tales of fear and often violence. Sussex Police will continue to treat all domestic abuse incidents as a priority and to work closely with other agencies to keep victims safe. Anyone who is suffering any form of abuse by a partner or family member is encouraged to report this by ringing the police on 0845 60 70 999, or in an emergency dial 999.”

Last year, incidents were recorded as follows:

East Sussex - 319

Brighton & Hove - 210

North Downs - 171

West Downs - 197