By Roger Hurn, author of The Dead of Winter.
Christmas is meant to be the season of goodwill to all but there are more crimes committed in December than at any other time of year.
According to a survey by the University of Nottingham, the winter months prompt a crime rate surge. Maybe it's because people who spend the rest of the year keeping well away from each other are suddenly forced to spend several days cooped up together eating and drinking way too much, and squabbling over who gets control of the TV remote, that the urge to lash out becomes too much for some.
In fact, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) report that deaths caused by violent assault go up by around 25% during the period from Christmas Eve to January 6th making the twelve days of Christmas a scary time indeed. The most common method of killing is by a sharp instrument. So the key is to make sure whoever is carving the turkey is of a placid nature!
However, it is no laughing matter that reports of domestic violence go up by as much as a third on Christmas Day. According to the charity Women's Aid, "A great deal of domestic violence is not reported ... [but it] is likely to increase during the holiday periods, perhaps due to the pressures of family members being together for long periods."
Some family members unknowingly deal out death to their loved ones. Sadly, the traditional Christmas meal of turkey and all the trimmings can also prove to be a poisoned chalice. The ONS figures for 2010/11 suggest that around 30 deaths a year can be linked to food poisoning and that number spikes at Christmas thanks to people not cooking the bird properly. Even if the dinner has been perfectly prepared, death can lie in wait for those who scoff left over bits of turkey that have been hanging around too long in the fridge.
There are other dangers too. You are up to 50% more likely to die in a house fire at Christmas than at any other time of year. A combination of drinking too much alcohol and smoking is the most common cause but traditional Christmas candles cause fires in well over one thousand homes each year killing many and injuring hundreds of others!
Therefore, although Christmas is a fun time for many, we can see from the above that it definitely has its dark side too. And that's without mentioning the 1000 plus people every year who are injured by their Christmas tree, and the 350 who come to blows with the fairy lights and decorations! So Happy Christmas - and keep safe!
Roger Hurn is the author of The Dead of Winter, published by Endeavour Press.