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Drink fuels 999 surge over New Year's Eve
EMERGENCY services were bombarded by a thousand calls in eight hours of drink-fuelled New Year celebrations.
In Brighton and Hove police were stretched as one woman was left fighting for her life after a seafront road accident, another was sexually assaulted in the street, a pensioner was found freezing outside and a man was injured in a street brawl.
Ambulance call-handlers picked up 509 calls between 10pm and 6am, while Sussex Police received 850 appeals in the first six hours of the new year – four times as many as usual.
South East Coast Ambulance Service was inundated with calls, up 20% on last year, most frequently about falls, assaults, drink-related injuries, breathing problems and mental health issues.
A spokeswoman said it was probably their busiest night since the Millennium celebrations.
She said: “We still had the normal incidents we deal with but on top of that we had drink- related incidents.
“We had extra crews on as we knew it was going to be really busy but it was busier than we anticipated.”
In Brighton and Hove there were 115 calls, in East Sussex 186 – significantly more than usual – and in West Sussex 208.
Sussex Police’s cell block at Hollingbury, Brighton, was full on New Year’s Day morning, with charged suspects facing a wait until today to appear in court.
Superintendent Simon Nelson said: “It was the usual busy and challenging New Year’s Eve and we are doing all we can this morning for those who have been victims of serious crime.”
As the New Year celebrations got into full swing in central Brighton, some officers were pulled away from the city centre to search for a missing pensioner.
Winifred Tanner, 81, disappeared from her home in Longridge Avenue, Saltdean, at about 5pm.
She was found by a neighbour shortly before midnight with a leg injury and suffering from hypothermia.
During that search, a serious accident closed part of King’s Road at its junction with West Street.
A 19-year-old woman was on foot when she was hit by a white Vauxhall Movano van which was being driven west shortly before 11.10pm.
The driver of the van, a 33-year-old man living locally, was unhurt. No arrests were made.
The woman, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital by ambulance.
Her condition was described as critical and she was transferred to Hurstwood Park Neurosciences Centre at Haywards Heath yesterday.
A young woman was sexually assaulted as she waited outside a house in Hanover Street some time between 12.30am and 2.30am.
Disorder Police are trying to trace a woman who noticed the 20-year-old was distressed and asked her if she was all right a few minutes before the attack took place.
Two white men approached her, both strangers, and one attacked her.
He was white, between 19 and 22, 5ft 6in, slim and clean-shaven, wearing a grey zipped top with its hood up.
Detectives were waiting to interview the woman yesterday afternoon to get full details of the circum- stances of the attack.
Police said there were “pockets of disorder” around the city.
At 3.25am, a ten-man brawl broke out outside the M&A Convenience Store in Lewes Road.
A 23-year-old man suffered a blow to his eye socket which medics fear could blind him in one eye.
Passers-by flagged down police to break up the fight. The participants fled.
Sussex Police are investigating claims his friend was racially abused before the fight started.
A 19-year-old Burgess Hill man was arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm, possession of class A drugs and possession of cannabis.
He was later released on bail without charge until March 6.
The injured man was under sedation at the Royal Sussex County Hospital last night.
Detective Inspector Miles Ockwell said: “I would like anyone who witnessed the fight or who may have seen a group of men in the area in the time leading up to it, especially if they witnessed any form of confrontation before the incident, to con- tact us.
“This was a very serious assault and the victim remains in the Royal Sussex County Hospital where he may lose an eye as a result of the attack.”
Police are also investigating reports of street robberies which took place in the city in the early hours.
Anyone with information related to the incidents is asked to call Sussex Police on 101.
For the King’s Road crash, quote Oper- ation Central, or email collision.appeal @sussex.pnn.police.uk.
For the Lewes Road fight, quote serial 624 of January 1, and for the Hanover Street sex attack, quote serial 455 of January 1.