POLICE are bracing themselves for an increase in domestic violence this Christmas.
While the majority of families will be enjoying spending the festive season with their loved ones, for some it can be a harrowing and lonely experience.
And, in order to meet the extra demand on its officers, Sussex Police has launched its annual domestic abuse crackdown, codenamed Operation Cranberry.
From now until January 4, extra officers will be on hand throughout 1066 Country to respond to attacks in the home.
Last year, over the same period, police took 898 calls reporting domestic violence county-wide.
Detective Sergeant Wendy Vodrey, who heads the specialist investigations branch of the force locally, explained: “This will be the third year that we have 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.” So it seems that police will be on hand to answer any emergency calls, but it begs the question, why the increased threat at a time of year traditionally linked to goodwill?
“The increase over this period is often down to higher alcohol consumption, combined with families spending more time than usual with each other,” said DS Vodrey.
“Partnerships which are potentially abusive may come to a head at this time.
“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.”
Councillor Bob Tidy, head of community safety at East Sussex County Council, praised the police for the work it was planning and urged any victims not to remain silent.
He said: “Christmas can be a difficult time for families as levels of stress and alcohol use can increase.
“Sometimes these tensions can boil over into violence.
“If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, come forward, get support and report it to the police.”
To get help or advice about domestic abuse call the CRI Domestic Abuse Service on 01424 716629 or Sussex Police on 0845 6070999. In an emergency always dial 999.
Victims can also call the Free phone 24-Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.