Our joint campaign to support 16-days of action against domestic abuse with Wiltshire Police ends today.
For just over the past two weeks we have been supporting the international movement “16 days of Action” which aims to raise awareness of and prevent domestic abuse, and, for this campaign, remind employers of the signs to look out for and how to assist a colleague and make them aware of the help and advice that is available.
National data from the 16 days of Action show 25% of women and 16% of men are affected by domestic violence in their adult lifetimes. A further 75% of people who endure domestic violence are targeted by the abuser while at work.
During the 16 days we have communicated how employers can help staff by “spotting the signs” of domestic abuse and how those same employees can access help; we also heard from a man who suffered 15-years of abuse from his wife but eventually managed to get help to escape.
As a law enforcement organisation, we recognise that our joint work with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to prevent domestic abuse through legal action is only part of the solution.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Wilkinson said: "We know that many victims of domestic abuse continue to suffer in silence, and that the reports Wiltshire Police receive represent only a fraction of the real picture.
"My new Police and Crime Plan will outline how my office and Wiltshire Police plan to bridge that gap between reported crime and the reality of what is happening in our communities.
"We all need to be more vigilant, step up and support those trapped be that personally or professionally. Domestic abuse can take many forms including violence, coercive control and harassment and stalking.
"We mustn't shy away from asking the difficult questions. It's also important to stress that victims of domestic abuse are able to access specialist support, without having to report to the police, and if you're worried about a colleague, friend or loved one you are able to seek advice on their behalf."
Reflecting on the 16 days, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Cooper said: “A campaign like this is always welcome, it can give a lifeline to victims and send a message to abusers.
“As a police force, we know that arresting perpetrators is only part of the picture - prevention is always better than cure. That is why we work with our partners – including Swindon Borough and Wiltshire Councils as well as local charities - to help encourage victims to come forward in the first place, as we know that domestic abuse continues to be under-reported. The preventative work then continues, including educating and supporting those who are abused and those who do the abusing.
“However, we recognise more needs to be done at the legal end too, ensuring, once someone reports abuse, we pursue an arrest, are thorough with our investigative work to build enough evidence to secure a prosecution, support the victim through the Criminal Justice System and ultimately get a conviction.
“This is the only way we can build on what is already an improving service to victims and our communities. But more needs to be done, and that’s where our continued work with our colleagues at CPS Wessex and the police forces in this region comes in. Tackling domestic abuse through effective investigation and prosecution is a top priority for the police and the CPS within our region.
"Wessex Tri- Force works together to build effective local partnerships to improve our joint response to domestic abuse for all, including violence against women and girls in our local communities.”
People who are experiencing domestic abuse in Wiltshire can speak to Splitz Support Service on 01225 775276 or on the out of hours helpline 01225 712880.
Those living in the Swindon Borough area can contact Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service (SWA) on 01793 610610 (24/7).