Last week I was delighted to host the Minister for Safeguarding, Rachel Maclean MP and Deputy Chief Constable Maggie Blyth who is the newly-appointed lead for the national strategy on violence against women and girls (VAWG).
Having already commissioned a countywide Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Framework and funded a dedicated post within Sussex Police to tackle VAWG, it was great to be able to further demonstrate how Sussex are rising to the challenge.
As the new lead senior officer, Superintendent Adele Tucknott along with Assistant Chief Constable Tanya Jones and Superintendent Miles Ockwell set out Sussex Police’s plan for tackling these crimes in partnership with local authorities, charities and victim services.
On the day, we were also joined by three specialist service providers – independent stalking support service Veritas Justice, perpetrator projects manager Interventions Alliance and sexual offence support service Survivors Network.
They each spoke about the expert, tailored support they provide and how they work with the force to ensure the needs of victims and survivors are met and that, as part of the pathway to recovery, there is access to survivor-centred essential services.
We spoke to the Minister about how funds that I secured from the Government’s Safer Streets programme along with extra money from the Safety of Women at Night fund has made Sussex streets safer by securing new CCTV cameras, better street lighting and other physical security measures.
It was gratifying to see that the Minister was impressed by the innovative, proactive approach Sussex is taking in tackling VAWG, including bystander training and a ground-breaking scheme to re-educate perpetrators of stalking.
She was also hugely interested in our hard hitting Do The Right Thing campaign which encourages men to challenge unacceptable behaviour towards women.
Violence is preventable, not inevitable
On Wednesday, I attended Sussex’s Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP) conference in Brighton. The VRP brings together the police, local authorities, criminal justice partners, the NHS, public health and community organisations to tackle the root causes of serious violence in Sussex. It’s all about protecting children and young people and making our communities safer.
Throughout the day we heard from a range of practitioners and experts who explained what types of crime affect young people and how to make lasting changes that will improve their futures.
We also heard from people who have had lived experiences including the parents who attend the Collaboration Against Child Exploitation group (CACE). They described the support they’re receiving and how the group provides a chance to speak with others who have had a child exposed to criminal or sexual exploitation and County Lines.
REPRESENT, who are a team of artist-mentors and young men referred through Probation, spoke about how they channel their creative outlets through music. A member of the group mentioned that without services like these they'd have nowhere to turn.
Early results from the work of the VRP are that there has been a 24% reduction in knife crime in Sussex, compared to a 10% national average in the last year.
Katy Bourne OBE
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner