On Saturday 13 July, Michael Lane and his team attended the Southampton Mela to engage with the diverse communities of the city on community safety matters.
People had the opportunity to fill in the Commissioner’s priorities survey and speak to the team about what crimes concern them the most, get useful crime prevention advice, and take part in the Safer Superhero trail.
Members of the Constabulary’s safeguarding team, representatives from domestic abuse charity Yellow Door and affected communities, and members of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office had a stand at Southampton Airport to raise awareness of Forced Marriage, FGM and other harmful practices, including tips on how to spot the signs and where to find help. Airport staff have also received special training on identifying those vulnerable and at risk.
Police and Crime Commissioner Michael Lane said: “Whilst arranged marriages are part of a long established cultural tradition based on consent and retaining choice, forcing someone to marry is a violation of their human rights and therefore has no place in our society.
“It is one of the hidden crimes within our communities, and one that can lead to domestic abuse, rape, slavery and murder. And for the person under threat from this coercion, there are risks to mental health, self-harm and even suicide, which is why there is such a need for early intervention.
“Victims are often coerced into keeping silent – it is therefore up to us to be aware of this practice, recognise the signs, and support those that are vulnerable and at risk. It’s only through working in partnership with other agencies and the communities where these practices are still deeply ingrained as part of their culture that we can increase reporting so that we have a true picture of the impact and can direct resources where they are needed most.”
Michael Lane was invited to Westminster for the National Rural Crime Network (NRCN) launch of their report looking into domestic abuse in rural areas. He commented on the findings and highlighted Hampshire’s investment in supporting rural communities: “I wholeheartedly welcome this important report which shines a vital light on the specific issues faced by victims of domestic abuse in rural areas.
“Last year, in partnership with the four top tier authorities, I provided £618,000 to services that support victims of domestic abuse and am committed to ensuring that these services can be accessed by those who need them irrespective of where they live.
“All Hampshire Constabulary officers and staff have received Domestic Abuse Matters first responder training, and there are also 450 Domestic Violence champions who are committed to promoting best practice and better understanding of domestic abuse.”