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With the Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) Elections being held on November 15th, West Mercia Women's Aid and West Mercia Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre joined the University of Worcester to host a hustings event with the three candidates.

Local people were invited to meet the candidates and to ask them questions, specifically on the subjects of domestic abuse and sexual violence. Worcestershire Woman of the Year for Achievement and Senior Lectureer in the Department of Social Sciences at the University of Worcester, Ruth Jones, chaired the event and was joined by candidates Dr Simon Murphy (Labour), Adrian Blackshaw (Conservative) and Bill Longmore (Independent), who all answered questions from the 50-strong audience.PCC Hustings Event

Incidents of domestic abuse and sexual violence are often known as 'hidden crimes', but they are ones we cannot ignore. In the UK, the police receive a call from the public every minute requesting assistance for domestic violence. This equates to an estimated 1,300 calls each day, of which 89% are calls by women being assaulted by men. According to government statistics, less than 24% of domestic violence crime is reported to the police. The 2010/11 Crime Survey reported that around 400,000 women are sexually assaulted and 80,000 women are raped each year.

The successful PCC candidate will be responsible for a number of tasks, including budgeting and allocating funds, appointing the Chief Constable and holding them to account, and setting local police priorities as part of their five-year plan.

“This event provided a really valuable opportunity to hear from the candidates and to put questions to them about issues that affect our lives, our safety and the future of our communities,” said Jan Frances, CEO at West Mercia Women’s Aid. "We were pleased to have the opportunity to make our voices heard and influence the West Mercia candidates before the election”.