Sussex Police are organising a crackdown on domestic abuse this Christmas
The often hidden problem can blight family and personal relationships, especially at such a happy time for most people.
The awareness campaign aims at encouraging both women and men to report abuse. From December 14, advertising will run inside buses across Sussex, radio advertisements will be broadcast on Heart FM, Bright FM and other local radio stations, and an advert will run on the digital screen at Brighton railway station.
Also, from Monday police officers and Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVA) from local specialist services - including CRI, RISE and Worth Services - will be visiting some 10 previous victims every day, whether high risk or repeat victims or both, with information, support and reassurance.
And starting on December 21, dedicated police patrols will be responding 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, as part of the force’s year-round campaign to encourage reporting of such incidents.
Detective Chief Inspector Ali Eaton, Head of Safeguarding and Investigations for East Sussex and who is leading the campaign, said, “At Christmas and the New Year generally we have seen a rise in reports of domestic abuse. This may be due to excessive alcohol consumption, people spending more time at home, or financial pressures, but whatever the reason there are no excuses.
“There may be only one chance when people reach out to us, so we aim to ensure that we always put the needs of the victim first, to help people with rebuilding their lives.”
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne said, “Stopping domestic abuse remains a priority and I’m pleased that this year’s campaign continues with the important preventative work from last year.
“Far too often the onus is put on the victim to report, and abusers need to know that they have nowhere to hide. Those who subject others to forms of coercive and controlling behaviour such as sexual abuse, financial control, threatening texts and stalking, will now be brought to justice when coercive and controlling behaviour becomes a criminal offence later this month.
“Once again, I am extremely grateful to the officers and staff who work these long shifts over the festive period.”
James Rowlands, Strategic Commissioner, Joint Domestic, Sexual Violence & Abuse and Violence against Women & Girls (VAWG) Unit, for Brighton & Hove and East Sussex, said, “Too often people experiencing domestic violence and abuse don’t report because they are fearful they won’t be believed, or because they are being coerced into keeping silent. It’s vital we raise awareness and that the public realise that any abusive relationship can include so much more than just violence.
“If someone is overtly jealousy, isolating their partner, controlling money or keeping someone under surveillance these are examples of coercive control. Anyone experiencing violence and abuse is not alone and that help and support are available.”
Every evening the teams of uniformed officers will work dedicated shifts to attend incidents of domestic abuse as a priority over all other types of policing incidents. They will also be accompanied by Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVA).
Officers working on Operation Ribbon (formerly known as Operation Cranberry) will also being kept up to date by intelligence briefings about specific known offenders who may pose a higher risk.
In addition, teams of specialist detectives and investigators will carry out follow-up investigations into domestic abuse crimes, aiming to get them to court as swiftly as possible.
The posters are based on in-depth research into the ways people are affected by domestic abuse and what stops them reporting it. The messages empathise with the emotional experience of victims, reassuring them that they will be believed and understood, and encouraging them to report either to the police or to other organisations that can help.
It is estimated that one in four women and one in six men will experience domestic abuse at some point in their life. Domestic abuse affects all social groups regardless of age, gender, sexuality, race or religion and is more than just physical violence; it can involve threatening or coercive behaviour, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse.
Last year Christmas and New Year period was once again a peak period for reports of domestic abuse in Sussex, although there was a welcome slight decrease in the number of incidents compared with previous years - 823 down from 940 the previous year. But at the same time 305 of those were recorded as specific crimes, an increase of 100 over the previous year and arrests or the period doubled, from 141 to 262.
For advice and support in Sussex visit www.sussex.police.uk or call 101 or 01273 470101.
To join in the Twitter debate, use #talktous.
To find local support and help near to you visit www.safespacesussex.org.uk
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