A safer world for women and girls is coming – and it’s us men who should be the agents of change.
By Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger
I am encouraged to see the increasing and continuing empowerment of women across the globe, women who are working tirelessly to take back ownership of their autonomy, their bodies and their rights. They have my full support.
Nevertheless, as we celebrate International Human Rights Day, it would be naïve of me to say that the world we live in today is a safe place for women and girls.
In Cleveland, domestic and sexual violence against women is one of the key challenges our local police officers face, with more incidents to investigate and complex vulnerabilities to consider.
Sadly, the recent murder of Jessica Patel in Middlesbrough has highlighted the sad reality of the risks facing women every day. Her young life was cut tragically short by her husband, who has shown no remorse for his crime.
Despite the challenges, collaborative and partnership working in Cleveland has allowed us to stand out from the crowd in driving forward real change in ending violence against women and girls (VAWG).
This has been demonstrated during the 16 Days of Action, which kicked off with me signing a White Ribbon pledge at Bar Zero in Middlesbrough with other male leaders from the Cleveland area.
Young women of the future, our local Girl Guides, played their part in the campaign by creating over 400 white ribbon badges for Cleveland Police’s male police officers to wear.
On International Day for Ending Violence Against Women and Girls, Middlesbrough Council’s famous fountain turned a fantastic shade of orange – the official colour of the campaign.
And as a demonstration of our partnership work, every day of the 16 Days of Action we have published a blog written by individuals from my office, Cleveland Police and a range of partner agencies who are working to end violence against women in Cleveland.
I remain dedicated to the Regional VAWG Strategy and I’m delighted that OPCC Chief Executive Simon Dennis joined me as a White Ribbon Ambassador during part of this year’s 16 Days of Action.
The new version of my Police and Crime Plan will be published in February and I have reaffirmed my commitment to funding a range of specialist services to support victims of abuse and prevent further victimisation.
The world-class Teesside Sexual Assault Referral Centre is a facility I am immensely proud of – offering various levels of support for victims in crisis with no pressure to report the incident to the police.
We are also part of the innovative Whole System Approach to Domestic Abuse project – a £7m investment in eight Northern police forces to overhaul the way criminal justice agencies respond to incidents of domestic abuse.
Already this work has reinstated the use of a Domestic Abuse Support Car, a vehicle with a domestic abuse support worker on board, and new theatre-based training on coercive control for police officers and staff.
It is important that men, as the key perpetrators of violence against women, make a stand to never commit, condone and stay silent about this violence.
We must use our unique privilege to transform aspects of male culture, instilling boys with the desire to respect, empower and support women.
Men are part of the problem and it is important that we are part of the solution.
Posted on Monday 10th December 2018