PCC hears from force victim engagement officers during sexual violence awareness week
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Bedfordshire Police’s victim engagement officers have had an audience with Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye as he backs efforts to tackle violence against women and girls during #ItsNotOk week.
It’s Not Ok week raises awareness around issues such as rape and sexual abuse.
This week the commissioner met with Bedfordshire Police’s specialist victim engagement officers (VEOs), who provide dedicated support to victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault.
The commissioner made funding available to recruit seven additional VEOs this year, doubling the size of the team.
Mr Akinbusoye’s office has invested more than £1 million this year in support services to support victims and carry out prevention activity around domestic abuse and sexual violence.
The commissioner is also working with the PCC in Hertfordshire on the flagship Chrysalis Centre, a £2 million project funded by the Home Office which aims to support and reform domestic abuse perpetrators.
Detective Chief Superintendent Zara Brown, Bedfordshire Police’s lead for male violence against women and girls, said: “It’s Not Ok week is another invaluable opportunity for us to reiterate our commitment to tackling appalling crimes like domestic abuse and sexual assault.
“Tackling perpetrators is a major part of our approach and anyone who commits such crimes will face the full force of the law from our specialist teams of detectives.
“But this is just one part of our strategy. Providing specialist support to victims, reforming perpetrators and changing attitudes within policing all also key bits of work we are committed to supporting and I am grateful for the PCC’s support in this area.”
This week Mr Akinbusoye is highlighting the support available, and the work police are doing to target offenders.
The PCC said: “I wholeheartedly support It’s Not Ok week; I have very strong views about male violence against women and girls (MVAWG), and I am committed to doing whatever I can to support victims of this awful crime.
“I will continue to invest funding into local support services and work closely with the force to educate perpetrators about the serious consequences of their actions.
“We all have a part to play in helping to ensure sexual violence is stamped out in society and I encourage everyone reading this to talk with children and family members about healthy relationships, boundaries and what is not acceptable to say or do to others.
“I am grateful to Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst, his team and especially Bedfordshire’s Rape and Serious Sexual Offences team (RASSO) who work tirelessly in this hugely complex area of policing.”
All this week the force’s Blue Bell network, which supports victims and witnesses of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behaviour in policing, is doing a roadshow at different stations across the county.
The roadshow is part of efforts to help encourage culture change in policing and get police officers and staff to challenge inappropriate behaviour.
As part of his role, PCC awards funding to organisations in the county who contribute to the delivery of the objectives set out in the county’s Police and Crime Plan.