Police blame weather for domestic abuse surge

BAD weather has been blamed for domestic incidents in Sidmouth rocketing by a shocking 123 per cent.

Police say cases have been sparked by residents developing “cabin fever” when forced to stay indoors due to miserable conditions - leading to a rise in violent crimes.

Growth of the town, with new housing developments at Stowford Rise and Woolbrook, was identified as another reason why officers have had to deal with a huge spike in domestic offences ranging from assaults to arguments – and even post-break-up burglaries.

“There are more houses, but the domestic violence is not just in one place,” said local Sergeant Andy Turner.

“It would surprise you where it happens – it’s right across the spectrum.”

However, incessant rain and the Olympics have been credited for a fall in offences such as criminal damage and anti-social behaviour – which has seen overall recorded crimes drop.

Figures from August 2011 to August 2012 for Sidmouth, Salcombe Regis, Sidbury, Newton Poppleford and Sidford show a nine per cent decrease when compared to the previous year - falling from 526 to 477.

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Violent crime for the same period has risen by 37 per cent – from 90 to 124.

“Some of this increase is down to domestic violence cases – we’ve seen a spike with the additional housing and bad weather. People get cabin fever locked in a house together,” Sgt Turner told town councillors on Monday.

He also attributed the rise to the way the force now records serious violent offences.

“We’re more robust in our recording of incidents, but there has been a definite increase,” he said.

The East and Mid Devon Community Safety Partnership is holding a domestic abuse awareness week from November 19 to 24, when people suffering from abuse can get help and support.

Gerry Moore, from the partnership, said: “We are also looking at doing some work in certain areas of the town where we feel additional help may be required.”

He added that if help was needed immediately, people should not hesitate to call the 999 police emergency number.

For non-emergencies, there is a 24/7 free phone number for confidential advice. Stop Abuse for Everyone is a service for Exeter, Mid and East Devon on 0800 328 3070.