Operation targets domestic abuse

DOMESTIC abuse incidents could rise over the Christmas and New Year period, police are warning.

To cope with the anticipated increase, Sussex Police is launching Operation Cranberry to ensure victims’ calls can be responded to as quickly as possible.

Dedicated patrols will respond to reports of domestic abuse from Thursday, December 23, until Tuesday, January 4.

Last year, police in Sussex were called to a total of 898 incidents over a similar period.

Det Sgt Wendy Vodrey, from Sussex Police, said, “This will be the third year Sussex Police has run a forcewide campaign and we anticipate certain days will be particularly busy with calls for help, such as Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

“Victims have been 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, uniformed officers will work a dedicated shift to attend incidents of domestic abuse as sole priority.

Operation Cranberry officers will be kept up to date about victims who may be particularly vulnerable and offenders who may pose a higher risk.

In addition teams of specialist detectives will carry out the investigations into domestic abuse crimes.

DS Vodrey said, “Following previous campaigns, officers said 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.

“It is a sad fact some experience abuse repeatedly and there will be individual cases where there is a particularly high risk of abuse.

“Officers will carry out regular checks on and visits to high-risk victims identified by specialist investigators.””

Councillor Bob Tidy, lead member for community safety at the county council, said, “Christmas can be a difficult time for families as levels of stress and alcohol use can increase. The East Sussex Safer Communities Partnership is working to raise awareness of domestic abuse and helping people to understand there are many forms of abuse, including emotional, physical, financial and sexual abuse.”

To get help or advice or to talk about options call CRI Domestic Abuse Service on 01424 716629 or Sussex Police on 0845 6070999. In an emergency always dial 999. There is also a free 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge.