A rise in domestic abuse cases in a Devon town may be down to this year's bad weather, police have said.
Sergeant Andy Turner told Sidmouth Town Council, which has also seen two new housing developments in its area, that the number of violent incidents in the town and surrounding area increased to 124 between August 2011 and August 2012 – compared to 90 in the previous 12 months.
Sgt Turner told the councillors: "Some of the increase is down to domestic violence cases. We have seen a spike with the additional housing and bad weather.
"People get cabin fever locked in a house together. Domestic violence is not just in one place, it would surprise you where it happens – it's right across the spectrum."
Sgt Turner also said the bad weather may also have contributed towards a decline in overall crime, which fell from 526 to 427 over the same period. Offences such as criminal damage and anti-social behaviour were particularly affected.
But Councillor Stuart Hughes, chairman of the town council, queried the explanation. He said: "It seemed a strange thing to blame a rise in domestic violence on the weather.
"I know the weather gets blamed for a lot of things but this is a new one on me. I would question whether that is the case."
Devon and Cornwall have among the highest rates of domestic violence in the country, which is expected to cost the region hundreds of millions of pounds a year. In the past, the force has issued warnings ahead of the Christmas period and football tournaments which have previously seen incidents rise by up to 30 per cent.
A spokesman for the force said there were "many factors which can influence the causes of domestic abuse".
"On occasion weather is one of those," he added. "Poor weather can see families, where tensions may already exist, being cooped up together and spending more time together than they ordinarily would.
"It is one of a number of a number of external factors which can trigger domestic abuse.
"But poor weather conditions can impact on crime levels in a positive way particularly regarding violent crime in our night-time economy.
"It can also impact on burglary rates because burglars – like anyone else – don't like getting soaking wet."