Info from Devon & Cornwall Police:

We all know about the importance of symbolism – take rainbows in Qatar.

Devon & Cornwall Police supported White Ribbon Day on 25 November (International Day Against Violence Against Women) and 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence which runs until 10 December (a Human Rights Day, observed across the world). It is also hopefully backed up by action.

In the coming days and weeks, you will see information both online and on posters, leaflets and even beermats about how you can find support if you are a victim of rape or serious sexual assault or of domestic abuse in any of its forms, and about the meaning of consent and the myths surrounding rape and domestic abuse that may prevent people from reporting it. This is good news in times where there is lots of talk about misogynistic cultures within institutions.

While the theme of 16 Days is very much about violence against women and girls, there is help from the police and partner agencies for everyone.

Deputy Chief Constable Julie Fielding said: “Over the past 12 months, Devon & Cornwall Police has made significant investment into our specialist Domestic Abuse investigation teams with an extra 52 staff and officers.  These dedicated teams are essential to be able to provide the best possible service to victims across Devon and Cornwall, and to bring perpetrators of domestic abuse to justice.  If you are being subjected to domestic abuse, or know someone who is, please contact us to report it.”

White Ribbon is the UK’s leading charity engaging men and boys to end violence against women and girls, a massive problem as recent domestic violence figures tell us. Everyone, especially men and boys, is encouraged to make the White Ribbon Promise to never use, excuse or remain silent about men’s violence against women.

Pictured are: Assistant Chief Officer People Alexis Poole, Assistant Chief Officer People Alexis Poole and Director of Finance & Resources Sandra Goscomb from Devon & Cornwall Police and Treasurer Nicola Allen, Operations Director Felicity Ridgway, Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez  and Chief Executive Frances Hughes from the Office of The Police and Crime Commissioner.

Alison Hernandez, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly said: “We know that violence against women and girls remains at an unacceptably high level and in Devon and Cornwall we have seen an increase in the reporting of rape.

“As the public’s voice for the commissioning of victim services I want to encourage anyone to come forward by either reporting it to the police, victim support or if you wish to remain 100 per cent anonymous then to Crimestoppers 0800 111 555.

“There is much more to be done to focus on the perpetrators, but by continually speaking out we are changing the future pathway for young women and girls.”

This year Devon & Cornwall Police has also joined Operation Soteria Bluestone, a national programme led by the Home Office and Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime (MOPAC) to improve outcomes in rape and serious sexual offence cases, such as better support for victims throughout the criminal justice process and seeing more cases go to court. It focuses on a suspect oriented approach along with working closely with the Crown Prosecution Service, Independent Sexual Violence Advisors and other partner organisations. Prior to officially joining the initiative as one of fourteen forces, Devon & Cornwall Police has been following the Soteria Bluestone principles of specialist skills for all, not just specialist teams, and upskilling all investigators and responders, adopted from the experiences of five initial pathfinder forces.