Sussex Police say they will again be stepping up their patrols and responds to reports of domestic abuse over the Christmas and New Year period.
Officers dedicated to ‘Operation Cranberry’ will be equipped with body-worn video cameras to help secure vital evidence when they are called to incidents.
The force say domestic abuse is always treated as a priority 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 today (Friday 20 December) and continue up to and including Wednesday 1 January.
Last year, police in Sussex were called to 982 incidents of reported domestic abuse from December 21 2012 to January 2 2013, an increase from 643 the previous year. Some 219 were subsequently recorded as involving specific criminal offences.
Det Insp Stuart Hale from the force’s Protecting Vulnerable People branch said; “This is the fifth 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 them.
“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.
“The patrols are just part of our response to the issue of domestic abuse, alongside our continuing ‘Talk To Me’ campaign, which advises victims how to contact police and report what is happening to them - and if not to police, then to someone else who can help and advise.
“Over the past year we have seen a rising trend in such reports. This is an encouraging development which we want to continue.”
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “People who suffer from domestic abuse are never given respite irrespective of the time of year.
“I fully support those officers who will be working dedicated shifts over the festive period to help victims of domestic abuse and bring perpetrators to justice.”
For the Cranberry patrols, teams of uniformed officers will work shifts dedicated to attending reports 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.
Stuart Hale 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.”
The police sayt all agencies can help to end abuse if they are made aware of it.
Officers also 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.
For advice and support, and for further imformation about the Talk To Me campaign, you can go to www.sussex.police.uk or call 101 or 01273 470101.
If you don’t want to talk to the police these organisations can also help;
The 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 - www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk
West Sussex - WORTH on 0330 222 8181 www.worthservices.org
Brighton & Hove and West Sussex - RISE helpline on 01273622822 www.Riseuk.org.uk
East Sussex Domestic Abuse Service on 0844 225 0657
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