Published: 00:01, 24 December 2016
While many people will spend their Christmas Eve rushing around with some last minute shopping, trying to beat the traffic to get home or preparing a festive feast, hundreds of others are the victims of crime or face the night in a police cell.
The number of people arrested on Christmas Eve has soared for the past three years in Kent, according to statistics from Kent Police released under a Freedom of Information request by KentOnline.
Last year, two people were arrested for strangulation in Canterbury and Medway, two for sexual assault – including one case involving a girl under 13 – in Thanet, and two for rape in Ashford and Gravesham.
A total of 70 people were arrested in 2013 during Christmas Eve. In 2014 that rose to 82 and last year it was 109.
The number of women arrested has remained constant throughout that time, with just seven or eight arrests. The rise has come from men.
In 2015 Medway saw the most arrests with 19. Maidstone followed closely behind with 18 while Thanet and Canterbury were joint third with 10.
Gravesham, Sevenoaks and Tonbridge and Malling had the lowest crime figures, with just two arrests per district and the latter two were low the previous two years as well.
In each of the three years analysed, more people were arrested for an assault on Christmas Eve than anything else.
In 2015 having excess breath alcohol was second, with eight arrests across almost every district, including Dartford, Swale and Shepway.
In 2014 Maidstone topped the crime charts, with 15, followed again by Canterbury and Dover was joint third with Thanet.
Again, assault was the main reason for arrests with 27 people apprehended - including two women - when combining common assault ABH, GBH, GBH with intent and assaulting the police.
"Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are two particularly busy days of the year for the emergency services" - Ch Insp Tim Cook
That year burglary was the second highest offence, with seven, including three in Dover alone.
In 2013 Gravesham, Tunbridge Wells, Maidstone and Canterbury were joint top and it was criminal damage which was the most heavily committed crime after assault.
There were two people arrested for this in Ashford, and others in Gravesham, Medway, Thanet and Tunbridge Wells.
Kent Police pointed out that the data contains duplicate records, where a person may have been arrested for a number of offences.
While Christmas Eve is becoming more violent across the county, New Year’s Eve is getting tamer.
The number of people arrested last year compared to two years before has almost halved.
In 2013, 140 people were arrested. That dropped to 81 in 2014 and to 74 in 2015.
Drunk and disorderly might be the crime expected for new year, but like with Christmas Eve, assault was the main report.
Coming second in 2013 was affray, with 10 people arrested across Ashford, Canterbury, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells.
In Dartford that year a woman was also arrested for child neglect, the only one over those three years for both New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve.
In 2014 nine were apprehended for criminal damage across most districts and 10 in 2015.
Drunk and disorderly behaviour accounted for just four arrests over each of those years county-wide.
Women were also much more active during New Year’s Eve, with between 10 and 26 alleged offences over that one day each year, compared to seven or eight over Christmas.
Chief Inspector Tim Cook said: “The number of arrests made on certain days of the year can fluctuate for a number of reasons.
“Arresting a suspect is dependent on the seriousness of the offence and the demeanour of the suspect, but sometimes officers will look for alternative options for dealing with someone prior to carrying out an arrest.
“Officers will be on duty across the county throughout the Christmas and new year period, as they are the whole year round, to keep Kent safe.
“Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are two particularly busy days of the year for the emergency services, particularly in terms of policing busy town centres that have lots of bars and restaurants.
"If residents are socialising on these events we would encourage them to take steps to keep safe; walk away from confrontation, don’t leave drinks unattended, book a taxi in advance or nominate a designated driver within your group who will not drink alcohol and take everyone home safely."