Police patrols focus on domestic abuse

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Sussex Police will once again be dedicating ‘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.

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 sufficient resources available to manage and respond to calls for urgent help.

The patrols will begin on December 21 and continue until January 2.

Last year, police in Sussex were called to 603 incidents of reported domestic abuse from December 22 2011 to January 2 2012, an increase from 578 the previous year - 223 were subsequently recorded as involving specific criminal offences.

Detective Sergeant Hari Flanagan from the force’s Protecting Vulnerable People Branch, said; “This is the fourth year running that we have operated extra force-wide patrols focusing on high risk victims of domestic abuse as we understand that the festive period can be a particularly difficult time for these victims. We have historically had peaks in the number of calls for help on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Victims can be assaulted or abused by their partners or other family members and many of the incidents the police 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. Relationships which are potentially abusive may come to a head at this time. Our response officers use body worn cameras to increase the chance of gaining quality evidence and therefore do not just rely on the victim’s word against their abuser. There is a lot of support available for victims of domestic abuse and we are encouraging family, friends and neighbours to support victims by reporting this type of abuse to police”

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 also be kept up to date by intelligence briefings about victims who may be particularly vulnerable, and about specific offenders who may pose a higher risk. In addition to officers attending the homes of victims, teams of specialist detectives can carry out follow-up investigations into domestic abuse crimes.

Detective Sergeant Flanagan added; “Having dedicated officers working on Op Cranberry gives them the opportunity to spend more time providing better reassurance and gathering more evidence.

“It is a sad reality that some people experience abuse repeatedly and have few people they can turn to. Sussex Police officers and staff want to do everything possible to safeguard these victims, and in particular dedicate resources to those that are at high risk of abuse occurring over the Christmas period. Operation Cranberry officers will carry out regular checks on and visits to high risk victims identified by our specialist investigators, helping keep them safe and reassured in the knowledge that police actively seek to prevent repeat abuse”.

“Behind the statistics are personal experiences 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. 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 West Sussex, extra support and advice for domestic abuse victims is available. RISE stands for Refuge, Information, Support and Education and, along with refuges in Brighton & Hove and West Sussex, also runs the only Helpline local to Sussex. Contact 01273 622822. Website www.riseuk.org.uk;

In West Sussex the Worth Services independent domestic abuse advisory services can be contacted on 07834 968539 or via http://www.worthservices.org/

Further detailed information and advice is also available via the Sussex Police website at http://www.sussex.police.uk/help-centre/