Wednesday, July 24, 2024

SERICC interview Police Commissioner candidates

SOUTH Essex Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre (SERICC), Centre Against Rape and Abuse (CARA) and Southend Rape Crisis (SOSRC) held a networking event in Southend with the Essex Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) candidates. All candidates were invited, Nick Alston, Val Morris-Cook and Mick Thwaites took part.

Apologies from Linda Belgrove, who took part in a telephone interview; the other two candidates, Andrew Smith and Robin Tilbrook did not respond to the invitation.

The purpose of the event was to give an opportunity for Essex Rape Crisis groups to quiz the candidates about their commitment to the needs of sexual violence victims in Essex, and to inform them of Rape Crisis services in Essex.

Mick Twaites. Independent candidate for Essex PCC said, “Police Crime Commissioners will have a responsibility to protect those who are most vulnerable in our society and my focus will certainly put victims at the very heart of my priorities. I recognise through years of experience working in the criminal justice system that sexual violence is a serious problem that can have lasting harmful effects on victims and their families, friends and communities.

The PCC must work with all agencies and the voluntary sector to put as a goal the prevention of sexual violence. Simply to stop it from happening in the first place must be our focus and this will include identifying those who perpetrate such crimes, as well as supporting the individuals and families that go through prolonged suffering”

Nick Alston, Conservative candidate for Essex PCC said, “I condemn all sexual violence and as Police and Crime Commissioner would ensure that it receives priority attention. This must extend to resourcing the specialist investigative teams and also to training all officers in how to respond from the earliest suspicion or report that sexual offences may have been committed. The voluntary sector, where there is great expertise has an important role to play in seeking to reduce sexual violence, helping the police investigate effectively and supporting the many victims”.

Val Morris-Cook said “Police and Crime Commissioners will have a key role in tackling all sexual crimes. Every year 10,000 women are raped, 21% of girls and 11% of boys experience some form of child sexual abuse. Terrifying statistics that should make everyone sit up and take notice. Yet tackling this is not being given the priority it needs, there are still areas in Essex that have no access to Rape Crisis Centres.

Hundreds of victims have seen that they have been listened too and taken seriously during the Jimmy Savile revelations, there is a four month waiting list to speak to specialist sexual violence councillors in Essex, this shows there are still hundreds of victims still needing support, still needing to make that first step towards speaking out. As Police and Crime Commissioner, I’d prioritise , tackling Violence against Women and Girls, educating our youth about consent and safety and sex offender ‘grooming’, along with other forms of sexual crimes and work to ensure Essex has sufficient Violence against Women and girls support and counselling centres”

Linda Belgrove, Independent candidate for Essex PCC said “Should I be elected as Police & Crime Commissioner I will want to make sure that the victims of sexual violence receive the help and support they need. As a former Independent Member of Essex Police Authority I was made well aware of the impact that sexual violence and rape has on victims and their families. Preventing and tackling sexual violence will feature in my Police and Crime Plan.

I will ensure that victims of this hidden crime have a voice. I know that the great majority of victims who suffer sexual violence do not report it to the police and need independent confidential advice and support. I will support Sexual Offences Investigation Teams and funding for specialist providers such as ‘Rape Crisis’.

It will be a feature of my role to support campaigns in schools and the wider community to change attitudes so that incidents of these life changing crimes involving sexual violence are dramatically reduced.

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