Posted: Friday 1st December 2017
Last Saturday marked the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and saw the launch of our joint campaign, with the police and our wider partners, to shine a light on domestic abuse. Abuse, in whatever form it takes shape, thrives in silence and that is why we all need to do more to be part of the conversation about coercive control, domestic and sexual abuse, stalking and harassment and honour based abuse and forced marriage. Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing survivors’ stories with you and offering advice to those who may have concerns about a friend or family member. We all have a duty to protect those around us and together we need to make our message clear, that this inexcusable crime will not be tolerated in Avon and Somerset.
Ahead of the day, I joined NextLink at their annual vigil to highlight those affected by domestic abuse, rape and sexual abuse. Marching from Queen Square to College Green in Bristol, we came together to remember the two women who die each week through domestic abuse in this country and all those whose lives have been affected by this heinous crime. On Saturday I then joined the Soroptomists on their ‘Railing against Abuse’ march, where Dame Joan Collins attended to lend her support, and who spoke openly about her experience of physiological abuse in her marriages. Sharing these messages with the our communities in this way is so important because we’re making it clear for everyone to see that abuse is everyone’s business.
The recent #metoo campaign has also played a significant role in helping to make survivors voices heard, with Facebook reporting that within 24 hours of it taking off, 4.7 million people around the world engaging in the conversation, with over 12 million posts, comments and reactions. I’m not surprised by this. That is why I made protecting the most vulnerable from harm the number one priority for the police in my Police and Crime Plan. It is vital that when victims and survivors seek help from the police they are listened to and taken seriously. Together, with the police and partners, we are working hard to break the silence on domestic abuse encouraging victims to have the confidence to come forward and report and bringing offender to justice.
Yesterday, I was delighted to see the launch of a newly extended hate crime and discrimination collaborative service. Bristol Hate Crime and Discrimination services, brings together SARI (Stand Against Racism and Inequality), Brandon Trust, LGBT Bristol, Bristol Mind, Bristol Mediation and Avon and Bristol Law Centre. As well as offering support for victims of any type of hate crime, the service now offers legal advocacy and restorative approaches in dealing with hate and discrimination. We are really fortunate to have such incredible support services working together to help victims of this terrible crime. Only by working together can we end hate crime.
Finally, have you visited the Galleries recently? The Christmas Cop Shop has returned for its seventh year, greeting Xmas shoppers, offering tips on how to stay safe this winter, as well as entertaining the children with lots of fun festivities. The pop-up shop is based on the ground floor of the shopping centre and brings our partners together, giving local people access to the UWE Policing Society, Bristol City Council, Wessex 4x4 Response, Freewheelers Emergency Voluntary Response and Cycle Republic. The shop’s open from 9am-6pm every day until the 23rd December, so why not take a moment to stop by and say hi. I’m planning to pop along on 6th December and look forward to seeing you all there.