Posted: Friday 7th March 2014
This week, police forces around the country have been supporting a national week of action to encourage more people living with domestic abuse to seek help, and highlight the support that is available.
Last Wednesday I was in London, invited to be a keynote speaker at the national conference of the charity CAADA (Coordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse). Their mission is to bring all the relevant agencies together to support a strong response to domestic abuse, and I passionately support that approach here in our area.
Domestic abuse is not just a key priority in my Police and Crime Plan, it is important to me personally, as it is a particularly nasty crime that is damaging and eroding the lives of many families, and diminishing the life chances of thousands of our children. The actions of one thoughtless, bullying individual can leave repercussions that last for decades.
Every month I hold a private surgery with victims of crime, often that involves victims of domestic abuse, and I hear stories which move me, frustrate me and anger me. There is no ‘typical’ victim of domestic abuse, it happens to women, men, young people, elderly people, same sex partners, children and even parents or other relatives. It can be both physical and mental abuse. All too often the victims’ cries go unheard, because they put up with it. Even when the police are called, it’s a regular occurrence that the victim will withdraw and decline to give evidence. That doesn’t necessarily mean the police can’t pursue a prosecution and they often do, but it does make the situation more difficult and potentially leaves the perpetrator free to cause more misery.
Across East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire, we have dedicated groups of people working to support victims of domestic abuse, and also working with the perpetrators to get them to recognise the damage they are doing and turn their lives around. I have visited many of them in the last year and I am committed to supporting the excellent work they do. I will continue to fund and challenge organisations to deliver a high quality of service to those who need it.
I stressed earlier the importance of partnership working between agencies. If we do not work together, incidents of domestic abuse can fall through the gaps between responsible organisations. If we allow this to happen, I will be funding homicide investigations, councils will have more children in care and the NHS will be coping with the aftermath for decades. Domestic abuse is not always obvious, it is a hidden crime that lurks in the shadows, and must be brought into the open and confronted.