PARTY season has now arrived and many of us are looking forward to meeting up with family, friends and colleagues and spreading some festive cheer.
An influx of work outings and festive celebrations will be welcome for local businesses and a chance for us all to reflect on the year that has passed.
But, it is also a time when I am urging partygoers to think carefully about their behaviour, particularly towards women, as we see a rise in sexual assaults and harassments in bars, clubs and restaurants at this time of the year.
There is never an excuse for abuse of any kind. We need to rid ourselves of any notion that it is just a part of ‘going out’ at Christmas. What some people might think of as harmless fun or banter, is actually a serious criminal offence that has a horrific impact on its victim, and we must all take responsibility for eradicating it, once and for all. It is everyone’s responsibility to play their part in ensuring the Christmas party season is a time for celebration, happiness and joy and not a time for abuse, intimidation and violence
This week, alongside Victims’ Commissioner Nicky Brennan, I have launched the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner’s No Excuse for Abuse campaign, with digital billboards across the region displaying our eye-catching messages, that are aimed at making potential offenders reconsider their behaviour.
We have also launched a brand new website, specifically for the West Midlands. This central hub provides guidance for victims of abuse of any kind, directing them towards vital information and the support services available in their area. It will continue to be updated regularly, with useful resources.
We all have a part to play in ending violence against women and we should start by calling out or reporting anyone we see acting inappropriately towards others. There is more than one way to intervene in a situation. It doesn’t have to be a confrontation.
People can notify someone else, for example, a bartender or a police officer, or, if they feel comfortable doing so, speak to the person behaving inappropriately, directly in a safe manner.
If you feel there is a likely threat of violence towards the victim or yourself, you need to prioritise the safety and welfare of you both and you should call 999.
Please do enjoy the party season – but please don’t cross the line.