We need to increase support services for victims of domestic and sexual violence
Sue Mountstevens praises community groups for their work but says there is more to be done
Sue Mountstevens has promised to keep domestic and sexual violence at the top of the agenda in her role as Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), should she be re-elected on May 5th.
In the past year, more than 30,000 crimes of this nature, the vast majority of which are perpetrated against women and girls, have been reported – a rise of more than 50%.
However, instead of this being an increase in the number of actual crimes, this is a reflection of how many more people are reporting it, as victims have found it easier and safer to come forward to tell the authorities what has happened to them.
Sue said: "I have campaigned and petitioned consistently, so that anyone who is subjected to domestic or sexual abuse and violence is supported in the system and has easier access to justice.
"Working alongside some of Avon and Somerset's most remarkable organisations, such as Lighthouse, we have started to engender a feeling of trust that such allegations and claims will be treated with the severity and seriousness they deserve by the police force and that action will be taken.
"However, there is no doubt such assaults are vastly under-reported but these figures show we are moving in the right direction.
"I have seen a really positive move within the police service to be more understanding and non-judgmental and I am pleased to see that people are responding positively as this increase in reporting demonstrates."
As part of her commitment, Sue spearheaded the campaign to increase the number of Independent Sexual Violence Advisors through Safe Link, who hold the victims hand throughout the process.
Sue met with Safe Link advisors and service users to review their work and listen to some personal stories.
Sue said: "It is truly inspiring to see how much dedication goes into this work – and to speak to people who have first hand told me that this support had been a lifeline.
"It was only with this support did they move from being a victim to being a survivor of rape, and being able to have the confidence to have a life with living.
"This is something we must continue to fight for and support and I have made it one of the cornerstones of my campaign to ensure that if I am re-elected this excellent work will continue to expand to help the tens of thousands of people in this region a year who suffer in this way."