03:02, May 04 96 0 theguardian.com

2020-05-04 03:02:04
My working week  My working week: 'I want domestic abuse victims to know the police can still help'

Monday

I am the police and crime commissioner for Avon and Somerset police. My role is to be the voice of the people, hold the police to account, ensure community needs are met and to prevent crime.

I check in with my senior leadership team. We discuss what’s coming up, inluding meetings with victim services and any media activity.

I receive an update from Avon and Somerset police and ensure that the rest of the team is supported for the week ahead. My team has worked unstintingly to help me deliver in many areas that are changing very rapidly. We have been doing work around the early release of prisoners, working to give support to victims of crime, communicating with the wider criminal justice service, and ensuring the cogs of the system keep turning during the pandemic.

Every Monday I also have a Skype call with the victims’ commissioner, Dame Vera Baird, to discuss how we continue to protect those most at risk during lockdown. Avon and Somerset police has not seen an increase in the number of domestic abuse reports. This does not mean that it isn’t happening, especially as we know that the number of calls to the national domestic abuse helpline has increased. It is always shocking to hear there are potentially more victims, but unfortunately it is not a surprise when you look at what happened in other countries that entered lockdown before us.

Tuesday

I prepare for this week’s Facebook Live, which involves me putting local people’s questions and concerns to the chief constable, Andy Marsh. Before coronavirus we would host a webchat every few months, as the majority of conversations I have with our communities are face to face, but we are now doing the live conversations weekly and reaching thousands of people. Concerns have included travel and what is permitted; speeding and what the police are doing about people taking advantage of the quieter roads; what personal protective equipment the police are using; what local people can do if they are concerned a loved one is at risk of domestic abuse; and what to do about neighbours who are having parties and breaching the rules.

Despite being over a month into lockdown, there is still so much confusion and anxiety.

I find out my fourth grandchild was born at 10pm in London. Although I am ecstatic about little Josie’s arrival, I’m also heartbroken that I cannot jump in the car to see her, give her a cuddle and physically celebrate with my son and daughter-in-law on the birth of their first baby. It’s moments like these that I will not be able to get back and that hurts.

Wednesday

I take part in plenty of Skype meetings and conversations about what is happening on a local, regional and national level within the police.

We would normally hold these meetings once a month or every three months, but now they take place weekly, sometimes daily.

Thursday

My dining room table looks like mission control. I have two computers and two phones that often buzz at the same time.

My team has set up a domestic abuse webchat with Avon and Somerset police and partners to be shared on social media.

For some, lockdown means being confined at home with a perpetrator and being even more isolated from loved ones. I want victims to know that we still want them to come forward, seek help and be heard. I cannot stress enough that help is still out there.

We work to ensure information about how to access such services is as clear possible.

Friday

Every week, my team and I have a Skype call to check in to see how everyone is doing. My team has adapted beyond all expectations but I am aware that they too are facing pressures. Many of them are working while trying to home-school their children or looking after vulnerable family members. Some days are darker than others; luckily we do not hit the wobbles at the same time. When we do, we are there to pick each other up.

If you would like to contribute to our My working week series about your job in public services, get in touch by emailing sarah.johnson@theguardian.com

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