VICTIMS of domestic abuse will be given more support than ever before by police after the force received a £100,000 cash injection to help tackle the crime.
The money, which was granted by the county’s police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne, will be used to step up patrols by specially trained officers.
It will also pay for the purchase of 200 specialist smartphones, which will be given to those identified as ‘high-risk’ victims by police.
The phones will provide a vital lifeline and will offer a 24-hour link to police for victims when they feel threatened or endangered.
Mrs Bourne said: “The fight against domestic abuse and the devastating effect it has on families from all walks of life must remain a priority for everyone.
“It is a serious issue, with one in four women experiencing it in their lifetime and, on average, two women a week killed by a former or current male partner.
“It often happens behind closed doors, where coercive and controlling behaviour is harder to recognise but can have an equally devastating impact on its victims.”
Mrs Bourne said it was crucial that continued investment in the right technology to help combat abuse took place.
She said the money would be supporting Sussex Police’s Operation Ribbon effort, which launched in December.
The scheme aimed to provide extra patrol cars during the festive season, with officers making pro-active approaches to high-risk victims of abuse.
The added funding has been welcomed by police chiefs and Sussex-based domestic abuse charity RISE.
Detective Superintendent Paul Furnell, from Sussex Police’s public protection unit, said: “The extension to the Operation Ribbon cars will enable police to mount special patrols to respond to incidents of domestic abuse on weekends, which remain peak periods.
“When a Ribbon car responds to a domestic assault incident, specially trained officers stay with the victim of domestic abuse, ensuring that a tailored safety plan, including the use of new smartphones, is in place, as well as gathering good quality evidence to support a prosecution.”
Gail Gray, chief executive of RISE, said she welcomed ‘anything aimed at supporting and protecting survivors’.
Christmas and New Year holidays were peak periods for reports in domestic abuse across Sussex, Det Supt Furnell said.
Latest figures show there was a slight decrease of almost 13 per cent in the number of incidents reported in 2014 to that of 2013, with 823 recorded across Sussex compared to 940 in 2013.
However, Det Supt Furnell added: “But at the same time we recorded 305 of them as specific crimes, an increase of 100 over the previous year and arrests so far for the period have doubled, from 141 to 262.”
Mrs Bourne is encouraging those suffering abuse to report it, either to police or professional agencies.
For advice and support in Sussex, visit www.sussex.police.uk or call 101 or 01273 470101.
Those who want to report domestic abuse but don’t want to speak to police can call Sussex-based Worth on 0330 222 8181 or see www.worthservices.org