Campaign to prevent domestic violence

RESIDENTS across Hastings are being invited to unite in the fight against domestic violence at an annual awareness event next Friday (November 25).

The International White Ribbon Day will be marked outside Hastings Town Hall where a pledge-signing station will be set up.

People can pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about domestic violence.

At 1pm the Mayor and other local representatives and dignitaries will be signing the pledge. Last year 840 people signed the pledge.

Last year it was revealed Hastings has a massive domestic violence problem with more than five incidents reported every day.

Between April 2009 and April last year, police received 1,988 reports of domestic violence, an average of 5.4 a day. This represented one third of all reports in East Sussex when Hastings’ population makes up only about one sixth of the county’s residents.

The figures were even more alarming given it is estimated that less than four in 10 victims of domestic abuse come forward to report it.

Two women are killed as a result of domestic violence every week in England and Wales, and almost half of those in Hastings who went to the police had been victims before.

This years event is the 10th anniversary of Penny Beale’s death who lost her life to domestic violence. A tree planting ceremony will take place.

Penny Beale, of Croft Road, has worked tirelessly to address domestic violence after her daughter, also called Penny, was murdered by her boyfriend in 2001.

She received 123 injuries including 18 broken ribs and her liver, spleen and lungs were pierced after suffering years of attacks. Penny will also be attending the event as an active campaigner.

Councillor Jay Kramer, lead member for community safety, said: “We are not just appealing to victims to get in touch with agencies that can help them, we’re also asking everyone to stay vigilant and report incidents of domestic violence to the police if they believe someone is in trouble.

“We need to get the message across that this is an issue for the whole community not just the victim or perpetrator.”

There will also be a stand held throughout the day in Priory Meadow Shopping Centre where information and leaflets will be available. Sussex Coast College Hastings will be showing a film throughout the day and will also have a pledge-signing station. The event starts at 1pm.