Rachel Slack, Maria Stubbings, Katie Summers, Casey Brittle, Clare Wood – young women who should now be in the prime of their lives. Instead, all have, in recent years, lost those lives as a direct result of the hate crime that is domestic violence. Many other women, as the excellent coverage of this difficult subject in this week’s Croydon Advertiser highlights, have suffered horrific experiences but have escaped with their lives and are now looking to better and more secure futures. In Clare Wood’s case, her death led to the creation of Clare’s Law which allows women who may have reasons to be suspicious about a partner’s behaviour to check police records to see if there are any previous convictions.
Our Labour administration in Croydon made it clear when we took office in June that tackling the ever-increasing number of reported cases of domestic violence and abuse would be one of the council’s top priorities – and it is. That is why we are committing to becoming a White Ribbon borough and we will be formally launching this on International Day Against Violence against Women on 25 November. White Ribbon status will formally recognise that Croydon is making the tackling of domestic violence one of the key borough-wide priorities.
I am proud that it was a previous Labour administration in Croydon that put in place Europe’s first Family Justice Centre (FJC), in 2005. This is where all the public services – such as the police, NHS, social services and others – are under one roof, so that somebody who is a victim of domestic violence can immediately access all the support services they will need, and don’t have to repeatedly tell their story to different public agencies in different locations. However, we again need to strengthen the FJC, and then go much further than before in really coming together, right across Croydon, to state clearly that domestic violence will simply not be tolerated.
So, as part of our journey to achieving White Ribbon status, we will launch more education programmes within our schools, ensure that everyone who works in public services, such as the NHS and police, are trained to the very highest standards in terms of spotting the symptoms of domestic violence and have the confidence to make early interventions that, in some cases, will save lives. Alongside this, we will run high-profile poster and social media campaigns reminding the public that this is a crime that will not be tolerated, and offering helplines for those who might need them.
The ongoing increases in incidents of domestic violence in Croydon are completely unacceptable, so it is time to collectively redouble our efforts and ensure we are the generation that says loudly and clearly: “Enough is enough and the time to act is now.”
If you need help or advice, call:
- 24-hour domestic violence helpline – 080 8200 0247
- Croydon Family Justice Centre – 0208 688 0100
Councillor Tony Newman
Leader, Croydon Council