A DOMESTIC abuse campaign urging victims not to suffer in silence over Christmas is hitting buses and trams as police spread the word through a mass ticketing drive.

Messages encouraging victims to report abuse over the festive period and directing them to support services will be printed on more than four-and-a-half million tickets issued on routes across Halesowen and Sandwell.

The ticketing campaign which is running across the region until the New Year also features a strong warning to offenders that they run the risk of spending Christmas behind bars.

Reports of domestic abuse to West Midlands Police over the festive season from Deccember 4 to January 4 have fallen in recent years to 2,694 last year from 4,382 in 2009-10.

But public protection officers fear the actual numbers could be higher as some victims feel pressure to put on a brave face over Christmas and New Year.

Detective Inspector Kim Madill from the public protection unit, said: "Domestic abuse has traditionally risen at this time of year due to many factors - arguments over child contact, increased alcohol, family tension and financial pressures.

"Victims may feel pressure to 'hold it together over Christmas' but domestic abuse shouldn't be tolerated at any time let alone over the festive season when people should be celebrating and enjoying themselves.

"We want sufferers to know that help is only a phone-call away police can take swift action to protect them and their family and, through support groups like Women's Aid, victims can take positive action to turn their life around."

Buses operating out of stations the Black Country will issue tickets with campaign messaging, plus Travel Midland Metro services.

DI Madill added: "Hundreds and thousands of people use public transport every day. Printing messages and helpline numbers on tickets means we can reach a huge audience; people can also keep them in their pockets and handbags.

"The passenger reading the ticket may not be a victim of domestic abuse themselves but may know someone who is suffering. The campaign also encourages them to come forward and report it.

"Domestic abuse can be psychological, physical, emotional and sexual and is known to be an under reported crime for all victims, be they women or men in a variety of relationships and also members of ethnic minority communities. We want to raise awareness of the help that is available out there."

A supporting poster and flyer campaign listing 12 ways domestic abuse sufferers can change their lives over Christmas will be distributed across the region and displayed in pubs, hospitals and community centres.

To talk to a specially trained public protection safeguarding officer about domestic abuse call 101 but in an emergency dial 999.