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Talking about sexual abuse and showing victims help is available

Posted: Friday 3rd February 2017
Blog: 2017
It would feel wrong to start this week’s column without addressing the Taser incident involving Mr Adunbi.  I can completely understand why local people are concerned about this incident.  I have seen the footage and like local people I have many questions. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), are now investigating and I will be following the case very closely.  Mr Adunbi has played an important role improving race relations in Bristol in the past and I would like to thank him for all the work he’s done. On Saturday I attended the Justice for Judah community meeting to hear first-hand the concerns of local residents for myself. It was a positive, constructive and well supported meeting and I am considering very carefully how I and the Constabulary take forward the concerns raised. 

Being tasered is incredibly unpleasant, there are very strict rules and regulations and all officers have to be been fully trained.  Back in July last year, I set up a Taser Scrutiny Panel to ensure continual checks and balances on how the police are using these powers.  The panel, made up of independent residents, aims to bring transparency to the use of Tasers in order to increase understanding and confidence in their deployment.  The panel meet regularly and produce a written report which, with a copy of the Constabulary’s response, can be found on my website. I will soon be expanding what the panel will be looking at including stop and search and the use of force by police officers. I will soon be recruiting more residents to take on this important role, please keep checking my website for more details.

Next week I will be joining people across the country to mark Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week (6th-12th Feb).  The week is an opportunity to talk about sexual abuse and show victims that help is available.  I’ll be using the week to showcase the fantastic support services we have locally, working hard to give victims a voice and putting them back in control.  In my role as PCC, I’ve spoken to many victims of sexual abuse and sexual violence who have told me they felt alone and that they couldn’t talk to anyone.  However, they’ve also told me of the relief, when they’ve shared their story with someone who’s then been able to help them.

Protecting the most vulnerable from harm is the most important priority in my Police and Crime Plan.  There are no excuses for any form of abuse and making sure victims know it’s never their fault is something I am incredibly passionate about.  I am committed to tackling violence against men, women and children ensuring that all victims have access to the right support when and where they need it.  If you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse or sexual violence, please tell someone.  If and when you are ready to report it to the police, please know you will be listened to, believed and taken seriously.

During the week, the Constabulary and I will also using Safer Internet Day (7th Feb) to talk to young people and their parents about sexting.  We’ll be urging young people not to ‘bare then share’, as they can’t be sure how widely these images will be shared and who could end up seeing them.  In the digital age we live in, our young people are incredibly savvy when it comes to using mobile technology and apps such as Snapchat and Yellow.  However, less is known and understood about the unintended consequences of sharing sexual images online.  By educating our young people to the potential risks we can hopefully make them safer when online. 

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