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New drive to tackle domestic violence over Christmas

Smith: For some, Christmas is a time of fear, violence and isolation 19 December 2008. UK has launched a new enforcement campaign to protect and support victims of domestic violence over the Christmas. The campaign launched by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Brian Moore, is accompanied by a new advertising campaign to highlight the hidden issue of domestic abuse.

The adverts feature a woman at a celebration with people around her singing "when we get behind closed doors" with the strap line ‘Don’t suffer in silence’. The adverts will run for one month on national television.

The Domestic Violence Enforcement Campaign (DVEC) will run in ten police force areas over Christmas, a period when women are at increased risk. The campaign builds on the success of previous DVECs and encourages increased police-led activity in higher risk areas during seasonal peaks. This will include: innovative tactics such as the use of body-worn video cameras by police; dedicated Domestic Abuse response vehicles; increased frontline policing and more specialist advice for those officers at scenes of domestic abuse; identification and targeting of the ten highest risk perpetrators in each area- to include proactive bail checks based on intelligence and data; and Identification through Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs) of the ten highest risk victims in each area.

The Home Secretary also announced that next year she will launch a cross government consultation on violence against women building on recent successes and investigating what more can be done to prevent this violence; how to challenge attitudes that may uphold it; and how to reduce the fear of serious violence that infringes many women’s ability to go freely about their daily lives.

Ms. Smith said: "For many, Christmas is a family time, but for some it is a time of fear, violence and isolation. I am determined to do all I can to protect women from becoming victims of these horrific crimes.

"There is no either/or option to tackling domestic violence: tough enforcement must be coupled with support and encouragement for victims to seek help and report these crimes.

"We are rightly increasing our efforts over the Christmas period when incidents of domestic abuse peak but I want to ensure that we are tackling this crime year round. Next year I will be launching a consultation to find out what more we can do to improve the safety of women in their homes, at work and in public. I want people to recognise that we all have a role to play in ending violence against women."

Chief Constable Brian Moore, ACPO Lead for Domestic Abuse said: "We welcome the support of the Home Office in receiving additional funding to support this campaign in the fight against domestic abuse. The Domestic Violence Enforcement Campaign is an opportunity to increase awareness and activity across the police service and our partners.

"From previous campaigns, we know that Christmas and New Year is a time of significant increases in domestic abuse. We urge victims to come forward and we will support and protect them.

"We also want to send a message to perpetrators of domestic abuse that this behaviour will not be tolerated and that we will arrest and prosecute for these crimes. "We want everyone to be safe in their homes this Christmas and New year." The increased enforcement activity will run alongside a national television advertising campaign encouraging victims of domestic violence to seek support and not to suffer in silence. The adverts are supported by Women’s Aid and Refuge and will run until 15th January 2009. This will be complimented by posters.

Nicola Harwin CBE, Chief Executive for Women’s Aid said: "At Christmas and New Year pressure on Women’s Aid services can increase, as it can be a very stressful time for women with violent and abusive partners, as the family is together for an extended period of time and existing abuse can intensify.

"Often, a woman will not leave her abusive partner during the early part of the festive season because she does not want her family, particularly her children, to feel upset during Christmas. As a result, New Year can be a very busy time for the National Helpline and Women’s Aid local domestic violence services as women seek help and support for themselves and their children.

"Women’s Aid welcomes this new advertising and enforcement campaign, which we hope will not only increase awareness of domestic violence at this difficult time but also increase frontline police protection for vulnerable women and children at risk from violence in the home this Christmas."

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