Reports of domestic abuse over the festive period increased by more than 50% last year.

A staggering 982 calls were made to Sussex Police between December 21 and January 2 – compared with just 643 in 2011 and 758 in 2010.

Of those calls, 219 were recorded as crimes.

Sussex Police could not to confirm how many incidents had led to charges or court action.

Domestic abuse charities have called the figures “disturbing”, adding that more work has to be done to tackle the problem.

Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of domestic violence charity Refuge, said: “Thousands of women and children live in daily fear and terror and Christmas is no exception.

“It is important to remember that women are attacked on average 35 times before calling the police.”

She added that it was crucial police follow up with rigorous arresting and charging to stop these “atrocious crimes.”

The force rolled out Operation Cranberry for the fourth year, which sees dedicated officers out on patrol to deal with the annual spike in domestic incidents.

High points

The reported incidents ranged from 60 on December 21 to 129 on New Year’s Day.

December 27 and 29 were the second highest with 82 reported incidents a day.

The daily average for the rest of the year is 55.

Detective Sergeant Hari Flanagan, from the force’s protecting vulnerable people branch, said: “The increase over the holiday 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.

“The increase in incident reporting this year was particularly noticeable, and we think it may be due at least in part to the fact that we have been actively campaigning.”

Support groups

Joyce Jenkin, refuge worker at Worthing Women’s Aid, said: “We have also seen a big rise in women coming to us in the last year.

“We used to have one support group but now we have two – and they are both full.

“It is difficult to say why but I would say that women are increasingly being encouraged and feel more confident about coming forward.

“However, I would guess that this would only account for part of the rise.”

Anyone suffering from abuse by a partner or family member should call police on 101, or call 999 if it is an emergency.

How to get help

  • In an emergency, call 999.
  • RISE operates through Brighton and Hove and across West Sussex. Its Helpline number in 01273 622822.
  • Worthing Women’s Aid on 01903 231939.
  • People in Lewes, Eastbourne and Wealden can call the East Sussex Domestic Abuse Service on 01323 419 340, or in Hastings 01424 716629.
  • Men affected by domestic abuse can call the Men’s Advice Helpline 0808 801 0327 or they can call the Anti-Victimisation Unit 01273 665 657.
  • For LGBT people there is the Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard on 01273 204050.

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