I was delighted this morning when I got off the train, and was greeted by a uniformed police officer handing out white ribbons to raise awareness of violence against women.
The reason I was so pleased was that, a few weeks ago, I heard a senior Police officer speak candidly about his experience trying to get his colleagues to take domestic violence seriously. He'd had a hard road. For a long time, the Police scarcely registered domestic violence as a crime; and when they did, they began to count the incidence, but did little else. Violence committed in the home were less likely to be recognised as such by Police than violence which took place outside it.
However, over the last few years, the Police have overhauled their approach to domestic violence, implementing a range of new procedures two years ago. These include much improved training for officers, mandatory reporting procedures and follow up after domestic violence call outs.
These changes may not sound like much, but they're a vast step forward from the predominant view of twenty years or so ago, that what happened behind closed doors was no one else's business. Having a woman in a blue uniform hand me a white ribbon is a clear statement that domestic violence is everyone's business.
Of course, the most crucial change in thinking needs to happen amongst those who perpetrate domestic violence. To that end, it was great to see men involved in White Ribbon day, and appearing on the promotional posters. Thanks lads!