Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has explained a decision to give more than £11,000 to a cats charity.
At today’s Sussex Police and Crime Panel (Friday June 28), East Sussex county councillor Carolyn Lambert (Lib Dem, Seaford South) raised questions about a £11,137 donation from the PCC’s office to the charity Cats Protection.
Drawing attention to a photo within an annual report on the PCC’s activities, which showed Mrs Bourne presenting a cheque to members of the charity, Cllr Lambert asked how she could justify such giving such a large amount of money to the group.
Cllr Lambert said: “As the owner of a rescue cat myself, I obviously support this charity.
“But I do wonder, for the public listening in, how you would explain to them, how the spending of £11,137 on Cats Protection is actually helping to keep Sussex safe?”
Mrs Bourne was unworried by the challenge however, revealing that the funds go directly to a scheme designed to support victims of domestic abuse.
She said: “This isn’t for looking after cats, per se. This was specifically for a piece of work they are doing called Paws Protect.
“Domestic abuse victims will often not leave their abusive partners – and there are many reasons why – because they are worried about their pet.
“An abusive partner will use a pet, very often a cat or a dog, as a means of coercive control over that partner. ‘If you leave me I will kill your pet’, is a blunt way of putting it.
“Paws Protect is a specific scheme working with victims of domestic abuse in Sussex. What they do is give a protective family for a cat.
“If there is a victim who comes to the notice of the authorities who has a pet and they are worried about leaving the cat behind in the home with their abusive partner, then Cats Protection will come and scoop that cat up and find a loving family for the cat to leave with for however long it is needed.
“It is just one less worry that [the victim] has and they are then able to concentrate on leaving and getting refuge.”
The grant was given to the charity as part of the PCC’s Safe Space Sussex Funding Network, which itself comes from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) money ring-fenced for victims’ support services.
According to the PCC’s office, the donation would allow the volunteer-run project to run for 18 months.
Cats Protection brought the project to Sussex in January last year, having operated it for some time previously in London, Hertfordshire and Essex.
The Dogs Trust runs a similar service in the UK, including in Sussex.