It is time to develop a zero-tolerance approach to violence in all its forms
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As the nation reacts with shock to the alleged murder of Sarah Everard those of us involved in policing and crime prevention have been focussing hard on the work that is being done to prevent violent crime in our communities.
Here in Devon and Cornwall we are fortunate enough to have some of the lowest crime rates in the country. Nonetheless the shocking death of Lorraine Cox in Exeter is a reminder that sadly nowhere is completely safe.
Reducing violence and its effect on people and society is a topic that has concerned the Chief Constable and I for some time now. It is why we have set up the first Devon and Cornwall Serious Violence Prevention Programme which this week (Monday, March 15) brought together police, charities, statisticians and behavioural experts from around the South West. The board will seek to better understand the causes of violence and then put in place measures to make Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly even safer for all residents and visitors.
We must also strive to make the criminal justice system more manageable for victims who have suffered from these crimes and their families. There are too many cases that take too long to progress through investigation to charge and trial and the impact that such delays have on the individuals are not something that they should have to suffer.
I am pleased to see that in the aftermath of the tragic Everard case the Home Office has reopened the call for evidence relating to its strategy to combat violence against women and girls. I would encourage anyone who wants to help shape the future government approach to take part in that survey which is open until March 26.
I welcome this open approach although we should not lose sight of the fact that men and boys are in fact more risk of violence than women, and this problem also needs greater consideration, levels of understanding and resource.
Many in the criminal justice system believe that violent crime is fostered by the turning of a blind eye to the early warning signs. Whether it be school bullying or sexual harassment in the workplace, we have all witnessed behaviour that is harmful, yet how often do we challenge it and the response of our peers to it?
There is now a growing understanding that such harassment is a form of men exerting or trying to exert power over women. I stand in solidarity with those who say that we have to stand up to violence in all its forms.
If you have been a victim of crime and want practical and emotional help and support you can contact the Devon and Cornwall Victim Care Unit on 01392 475900 or Victim Support on 0808 1689111.