Preventing abuse – Burlington Post article Nov 7, 2008

Halton Police Chief Gary Crowell’s recent announcement that a new police unit devoted to investigating domestic violence cases is on its way in 2009 is welcome news.

For those who witness the aftermath of women who’ve been abused, the new police unit couldn’t come soon enough.

According to Sarah Patterson of Halton’s Violence Prevention Council, abuse costs about 40 Canadian women their lives each year.

“We want to ensure people in our community know about woman abuse, local resources, and ways that they can help anyone who is in an abusive relationship,” Patterson said.

She added that the council is taking steps to deal with this issue by launching its Neighbours, Friends and Family campaign.

The campaign will help people to:

• Recognize the warning signs of woman abuse

• Support women and other members of the community who are impacted by woman abuse, and

• Locate supportive resources in the community.

More information about raising awareness and promotional materials, can be found on the Neighbours, Friends and Families website, www.neighboursfriendsandfamilies.on.ca .

For more information, call Patterson at 905-637-5256 or e-mail hvpc.coord@burlingtoncounselling.com .

Last week, Crowell used the kickoff to Women Abuse Prevention Month to announce a new domestic violence investigative unit would start up early next year.

Crowell said his involvement with Ontario’s Domestic Violence Death Review Committee (DVDRC) drove home the work that police do and, more importantly, the community’s role in preventing acts of violence.

Based on recently released 2007 crime statistics for the Burlington area, we believe this policing unit is overdue.

Despite statistics that showed violent crime in Burlington had jumped by more than 15 per cent between 2006 and 2007, the police chief had described the city as “a very safe community.”

Most disturbing among the 2007 crime statistics was that most reported assaults were either cases of domestic violence or involved people who already knew each other.

Across the region, police last year responded to 2,836 domestic-related calls involving threats or assaults, for example, between a spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, common-law partner or any combination of family members.

Of those, 627 charges were laid.

When news of the jump in violent crime reached Burlington city council members last winter, Mayor Cam Jackson wanted to take a look at how Halton’s police services are allocated.

It would appear by Crowell’s latest announcement that Jackson’s concern has been taken very seriously.

That’s good news.