Bendigo's violence unit expects spike at Christmas

WHEN Christmas festivities turn sour, it’s often Bendigo police’s family violence unit that is left to pick up the pieces.

Family violence advisor Sergeant Margaret Singe said Christmas Day united families that don’t always spend time together, and mixed with alcohol, tension could erupt around the dinner table.

Sergeant Singe said December was a busy time for police, with a spike in family-violence reporting leading up to Christmas.

“Last year we averaged about 80 to 85 reports a month in the months prior to December,” she said.

“And then we got 138 reports in December.

“This year from August until November we’ve had 120-ish reports a month so, if the trend continues this Christmas, we could be looking at 160, 170 reports in December.”

Sergeant Singe said Christmas Day could be a very stressful occasion for some families. “Often it’s because families that don’t get together all year, get together at Christmas,” she said.

“So of course there’s going to be some tension.

“A lot of the time the spike is due to verbal incidents, not physical incidents.

“We see the majority of our reporting leading up to Christmas and over Christmas as being more verbal and usually alcohol-fuelled.”

Most Christmas Day police call-outs are for verbal arguments that are getting out of control. “Quite often it becomes quite a heated argument and they just don’t what they’re going to do to calm the situation down so they’ll ring us,” Sergeant Singe said. 

“Last year one of the members said to me that they got called out to a job because someone didn’t get the Christmas present that they wanted.

“It can be something as silly as that but it can escalate.

“And we don’t want it to escalate to the point where there’s physical violence. “So just give us a call straight away if it does get out of control and you can’t sort it out yourselves.”

Sergeant Singe is calling on people to practice some patience and be aware of their own limits.

“It would be great for me to say don’t drink alcohol but that’s not going to happen,” she said. 

“But just be aware that there is going to be that time when perhaps you don’t see eye to eye with someone else in the family and the best thing to do is probably to walk away and have a break away from it.”

Sergeant Margaret Singe.

Sergeant Margaret Singe.


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