A thought-provoking campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse will start a year of activity tackling the issue by the States of Jersey Police.
A commercial with the slogan ˜What are you giving your child this Christmas' is aimed at making people think of the emotional impact of domestic abuse on children and will air on Channel Television tonight (Tuesday December 18th) and throughout the Christmas period.
The advert, made with the help of Highlands College students, Freedom Media and two young actors, is the start of a year-long campaign by the States of Jersey Police to help victims and their families.
Accompanying the commercial is a website video featuring messages from all the key agencies who work with abusers and their victims. It is to give people an idea of who they can look to for support and where they can find it.
As well as the Christmas advert another commercial will be screened later in the year with the same key theme of the impact on children.
Chief Inspector Alison Fossey said: "The Christmas commercial is just the first step in a long-term plan for States of Jersey Police.
"Domestic abuse is a serious crime and we are looking at many different ways to tackle it, whether in raising awareness through a TV campaign or by changing the way we work to make life easier for victims.
Throughout the year there will be a number of positive changes which will affect how officers deal with domestic abuse.
In January the definition of Domestic Violence and Abuse will change in line with the UK Home Office, although the definition in the UK will not be adopted until March.
This change will mean that any incident of c"rcive or controlling behaviour will be classified as domestic abuse. It also extends the definition to include those between 16 and 18, meaning they can be victims of domestic abuse as well.
This change in definition is one of the reasons why States of Jersey Police wanted to involve Highland College students in the making of the commercial. Officers visited the media students to talk to them about the issue and how it could affect them, and what police could do to help.
They then worked on the themes of the advert, as well as the practical side of shooting the commercial.
Throughout the year the force in conjunction with partner agencies hopes to introduce a pilot scheme called MARAC, or Multi-Agency Public Protection Conference. MARACs are voluntary meetings where information on the highest risk domestic abuse cases is shared between agencies. By bringing all those agencies together a co-ordinated safety plan can be put together more quickly and effectively.
Within the MARAC framework there will be an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor, or IDVA, who will be a trained specialist who provides support to high risk victims with the aim of securing their safety and that of their children. They represent their clients at MARAC and help implement short and long-term safety plans.
The plan is to launch a pilot in 2013 and for it to run for a year.
As well as this scheme the Public Protection Unit will be closely monitoring the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme currently being trialled in the UK. The pilot concludes in September 2013 and is a chance for people to ask police for confidential checks on a new or existing partner for details of a violent past.
If the scheme is successful in the UK it may be something that is looked at for Jersey.
CI Fossey said: "All of these initiatives have one purpose “ to help victims of domestic abuse and their families.
"We know the long term damage that an abusive home d"s to children and we want to protect those who can't protect themselves.
"So I would like to speak directly to those people living in violent or abusive homes, call us or one of partner agencies. We will help you.