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Warning domestic abuse could thrive during self-isolation

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With people self-isolating across the county and spending more time at home confined behind closed doors, the potential for domestic abuse is likely to increase across Sussex says Katy Bourne Police & Crime Commissioner.

The message from the PCC is – coronavirus or not, abusers will face the consequences. 

Mrs Bourne commented:

“As individuals and families enter into periods of increasing isolation, we will, unfortunately, have to prepare for a rise in incidents of crimes such as domestic violence which are often exacerbated by close confinement.”

In her first formal Covid-19 update meeting, which will temporarily replace her regularly broadcasted Performance & Accountability meetings, Mrs Bourne was reassured by Deputy Chief Constable Jo Shiner that Sussex Police will still be there for people in their time of need. 

DCC Jo Shiner said:

“As the Coronavirus pandemic situation in the UK continues to evolve at a fast pace, the command structure and resources across Surrey Police and Sussex Police has evolved to increase the resilience around the policing response and to plan for the changing landscape. We are prepared and we are working closely with partners to limit the impact this may have on all our emergency services. We will still be there for people in their times of need.”

As PCC, Mrs Bourne allocates more than £1.5 million each year, from her victim’s budget, into local support charities and community safety projects across the county. On Friday, in her weekly newsletter to Sussex residents, she recognised the dangerous impact this crisis could have on already vulnerable people. 

Mrs Bourne said:

“In the current climate, victim support services across the country are making the difficult decision to close drop-ins, workshops and other 1:1 support. However essential this may be to ensure the safety of their staff and wider community, it is still distressing for those whose situation may escalate during the crisis and we need to prepare for a potential rise in incidents of crimes like domestic abuse and violence. 

“It’s now more important than ever that survivors don’t feel alone and that we are making sure they know there are still helplines that they can access for support and guidance. If you have been a victim of crime or are feeling particularly trapped in a toxic home environment, you can still reach out for help and support.”

In China, activists say domestic violence has increased threefold since mass isolation measures were introduced. Economic anxiety and a feeling of having nowhere to turn for help are factors in the rise. PCC Katy Bourne says help is still there for those at risk in Sussex with local charities already adapting to provide web chats and phone helplines. 

Jo Gough, CEO of local support charity, RISE, said: “We are grateful for the ongoing support provided by the police and crime commissioner, who recognises how critical it is we get the message out to the people of Brighton & Hove that they can still turn to us in these unprecedented times if they need help.

“We are expecting an uptake in demand for our essential services as people are in close proximity to each other and under additional amounts of stress, and many have no choice but to isolate with their perpetrator. We’re also appealing to all our funders and supporters to be aware of the additional pressures on our both adult and child survivors who may now struggle to access basic necessities now that food banks and schools have closed, and the pressure there is on organisations like RISE to help meet these needs.”

Mrs Bourne adds: “I have been in contact with the local charities that I fund to see what provisions they have put in place to ensure they can still offer support to those who need them. 

“All the details of local support services can be found on my SafeSpaceSussex online directory – www.safespacesussex.org.uk – I urge any victim of crime to still come forward and seek the help and guidance they need. There are always people who you can speak to.”

Government advice is subject to change but the latest information is available on the gov.uk website. Information on the practical and emotional support on offer in Sussex is available at www.safespacesussex.org.uk.

Henry Smith

Henry Smith MP: Poppy Appeal 2020

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In his article this week, Crawley MP Henry Smith looks to raise awareness of the importance of continuing support for the Royal British Legion:

Throughout the course of this year we have seen so many aspects of day-to-day life affected by COVID-19, with few being more poignant than the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

With the pandemic impacting some of the more traditional and familiar ways we remember, I am keen to raise awareness of how we can continue to support the Royal British Legion in a safe and socially distant manner.

  • Poppies in the Post: The Royal British Legion’s website allows you to request 20 poppies free of charge, which can be distributed to friends and neighbours. Many of the volunteers who usually distribute more than 40 million poppies annually are unable to do so this year, so we are being asked to step in to support the Armed Forces community and ensure their contribution to our country is not forgotten. Please remember to make a donation to the Royal British Legion after requesting your poppies.
  • Printable Poppy: Unfortunately, large scale gatherings at the Cenotaph in London, at memorials across Crawley and around the country to pay our respects will be restricted to a smaller number of representatives. The Royal British Legion have therefore launched the Printable Poppy – an A4 poster which can be displayed at home, perhaps in the front window – for us to show our support.
  • My Poppy Run: A further consequence of COVID-19 are the changes to the My Poppy Run events which are usually held in October and November. Due to social distancing, these are taking place virtually, with participants being able to run, jog or walk while raising money.
  • Visit the local supermarket: The Royal British Legion have confirmed that supermarkets including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi and Asda, in addition to online retailers such as Amazon and eBay, as well as Lloyds Bank and Santander are supporting the 2020 Poppy Appeal. Each location has a number of cashless donation options, and Morrisons and Sainsbury’s offer customers an option to add a donation to their shopping bill.
  • Poppy Shop: With products ranging from poppy pins and jewellery, to clothing, stationery and homeware, 100 per cent of profits from the Poppy Shop go towards the Royal British Legion’s work to support the Armed Forces community.
  • Donate online or by text: The Legion’s website allows supporters to make a donation online, or by sending a text message to donate £2, £5 or £10.

While the ways our country reflects and remembers will undoubtedly feel different, the message remains the same. The sense of duty of all in the Armed Forces community will never be forgotten.

Henry Smith MP
Crawley Constituency

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