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Making sure abuse victims know they are not alone

Posted: Friday 9th December 2016
Blog: 2016

This month marks a year since the introduction of a new law to tackle controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship. If you’ve been gripped to the radio like me over the past 12 months and have the #freehelen canvas bag, you’ll know that this new law was extremely well highlighted in the BBC’s The Archers programme. Controlling and coercive behaviour includes isolating a person from their friends and family; depriving them of their basic needs; monitoring their time and communications and much more.

I recently launched a multi-agency campaign which challenges the perception of a ‘typical’ domestic violence victim by telling the stories of abuse against women as well as towards men, the LGBT community and the elderly, who all remain underrepresented in the reporting of abuse. The Constabulary and I are working closely with all the local authorities, including Somerset County Council throughout the four week campaign, in a bid to raise awareness of domestic abuse and the services that can help if you’re a victim of abuse or know someone who is.

Let’s be clear, there are no excuses for domestic abuse and no one has the right to control or abuse another person either physically or mentally.  However we know that domestic abuse can happen to anyone and I hope this campaign makes the police, our partners and our local communities’ look, listen, ask and ask again to take us one step further in our battle against domestic abuse. To find out more visit www.thisisnotanexcuse.org

Protecting the most vulnerable from harm is one of the priorities highlighted in my new Police and Crime Plan. Part of this includes supporting victims to find their voice within the criminal justice service and a key way to do this is by raising awareness of restorative justice (RJ).  This month marked International Restorative Justice Week and saw Avon and Somerset’s Restorative Justice Coordinators out and about in our local communities telling people about RJ.

Restorative justice is the process of bringing victims and offenders together, where appropriate, to tell one another their account of an incident.  This process not only aims to help put the victim back in control but also presents the offender with the consequences of their actions.  Stephanie Todd is the Bristol RJ Coordinator and spent the week talking to local people at the Citizen Service Point on Temple Street.  Find out more by visiting www.lighthousevictimcare.org

Finally, I wanted to be the first let you know about our new awards scheme, which recognises those who go above and beyond in policing.  The Be Proud Awards, launched by our proud partner the Bristol Post, aim to highlight the very best of Avon and Somerset Constabulary, acknowledging and rewarding our dedicated officers, staff and volunteers for all their hard work in ensuring the communities of Avon and Somerset are safe and feel safe.  Find out more and nominate today by visiting the awards website - www.beproudawards.com

Until next time


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