Sussex Police launch scheme to reassure domestic violence victims this Christmas

Sussex Police are launching a scheme to bring extra reassurance to victims of domestic abuse during the Christmas and New Year period.

Operation Hope, initially launched in Brighton & Hove in 2020, is part of the policing response for what can be a tough time of year for those in controlling and abusive relationships, and has been deployed several times during the pandemic across Sussex.

In the week leading up to Christmas, officers will be visiting a number of known high-risk perpetrators of domestic abuse to remind them of the consequences to their behaviour and that domestic abuse will not be tolerated.

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The officers who visit the selected perpetrators will also try to encourage them to engage with one of the programmes available in Sussex that will enable them to examine and reconsider their own behaviour and lifestyle.

Sussex Police launch Operation Hope to reassure domestic abuse victims

Police will also be visiting a number to people assessed as at high risk of becoming a victim of further offending.

Police officers, working with independent domestic violence advocates (IDVAs), will visit the victims to assess their current risk, help ensure they have safety plans in place, and encourage them to engage with specialist support services if they have not already done so.

The victims and perpetrators being visited have been selected by specialist police officers, in consultation with domestic abuse partners including Worth Services, Change Grow Live (CGL), Victim Support and local authorities, through the local multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARACs), identifying those considered to be highest risk.

Detective superintendent Miles Ockwell of the force’s public protection command said: “Existing tensions can sometimes be made worse at this time of year, due to excessive alcohol, increased family tensions and financial pressures, and currently Covid restrictions, but we need to be clear, these pressures do not excuse domestic abuse.

“Only abusers are responsible for their actions and we will hold them to account in order to reduce violence against women and girls. Domestic abuse can have a devastating impact on the whole family.

“Operation Hope is a well-planned multi-agency initiative aimed at supporting known victims of domestic abuse at times of increased risk and holding perpetrators accountable.

“We will carry out follow-up assessments, working with partners, to see if the victims were further offended against, and if the perpetrators persisted in their conduct.”

The force has launched a unique online survey which runs until 7 January, seeking the views of people across the county on the experience of women and girls as victims of harassment, sexual and violent crime.

Police said anyone controlled or physically, sexually, economically or emotionally abused by a partner, ex-partner or family member was a victim of abuse and should report it on the Sussex Police website – but always call 999 in an emergency. Support is available at Safe Space Sussex.