ALMOST 1,000 people in Cumbria fell victim to domestic violence over the festive period, according to figures released by the police.

Cumbria Constabulary has revealed that between November 19, 2012, and January 6, 2013, police were called to 950 incidents across the county.

Of these, more than half - 498 - were alcohol related.

The statistics show that in December alone there were 612 domestic violence incidents reported to police.

This is a rise from December, 2011, when 552 incidents were reported.

Police believe this rise may be down to a campaign they launched on December 17, raising awareness of the support that is available to victims.

The campaign was run over the festive break as data shows this is when the number of domestic violence incidents can rise.

Officers are now looking at whether the increase in calls in 2012 meant that the campaign’s message had struck a chord with more victims.

Detective Chief Inspector Mike Forrester, from Cumbria Police, said: “We know that domestic violence can be chronically under-reported so although an increase in violence of any kind is very worrying, the rise in the number of incidents we recorded may also be encouraging if it meant that more people had the confidence to pick up the phone and ask for help.

“What is very concerning - although not that surprising - is that more than half of the incidents police were called to had escalated as a result of too much alcohol.

“This is a worrying statistic but, sadly, alcohol is an all-too-common factor in many crimes and abusive relationships in our county.

"Many people don’t know when they’ve had too much to drink; they lose control of their senses and don’t know when to stop.

“Domestic violence is a very serious issue. It is a crime that occurs all year round and can have chronic health implications – not only on the victim, but also on children or wider family members.

“No one deserves to be abused and we will not tolerate violence of any sort.”

Throughout the same period, 286 people were arrested and 315 crimes are currently being investigated.

The force has now vowed to continue clamping down on the issue.

DCI Forrester added: “Our efforts will continue throughout 2013 and we would again urge victims to come forward and confide in us.

“By visiting our website they can also find out about what support is available to them in Cumbria so they can start a new year free of fear.”

Richard Rhodes, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria, added: “Domestic violence is an appalling crime especially when it is alcohol fuelled which the results unfortunately over the Christmas period highlight.

“I praise every individual that has come forward and reported domestic violence and the courage it takes.

“I have included domestic violence as one of the key areas in my draft Police and Crime Plan so that it remains a priority for Cumbria Constabulary.

“Only by all partner agencies working together can we make a real difference.”

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