Tackling Hidden Harms together
The Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner for Essex Lindsay Whitehouse joined organisations from across the Braintree and Uttlesford district and beyond to learn more about hidden harms.
The Hidden Harm Conference, which was funded by the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for Essex (OPCC) was organised by Braintree District Community Safety Partnership, Uttlesford Community Safety Partnership and Essex Police.
The conference, which was held on Thursday 3rd December at Chelmsford City Racecourse, aimed to: help professionals spot the signs of harm and make sure they are aware of the appropriate support for victims and make sure every organisation is working together t0 deal with issues relating to hidden harm.
Delegates at the Braintree Hidden Harm conference
Hidden Harms are crimes which occur outside of public view and include: modern slavery, child sexual exploitation, honour-based violence and abuse, female genital mutilation and online abuse and bullying to name a few.
The conference featured guest speakers include: Deputy PCC Lindsay Whitehouse; Andy Wright, Corporate Director Braintree District Council and Chair of Braintree District Community Safety Partnership; Marina Bailey from charity Catch 22; and Sarah Bell from Stop the Traffik. Speakers from Essex Police include Det Con Richard Hester, Det Insp Alan Stevens and Temp Chief Supt Ewen Wilson.
Speaking after the conference Deputy PCC Lindsay Whitehouse said:
“Crime is changing, more and more the threat of harm to our communities comes from those ‘hidden harms’, domestic abuse, elder abuse, online grooming, child sexual exploitation, modern slavery and trafficking.
“These crimes are so challenging for communities to recognise and for the police and partners to tackle because, as their very name suggests, they often take place behind closed doors. And sometimes these crimes take place before our very eyes. But although we may not recognise these crimes or they may be hidden from public view the effects of these crimes on their victims is devastating.
“At the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner we remain committed to supporting the police and colleagues in tackling these types of crime and raising public awareness of them and that is why we have funded today’s conference from our Community Safety Development Fund.”
Councillor Wendy Schmitt, Braintree District Council cabinet member responsible for Community Safety, said: “As a partnership we want to do all we can to prevent crime and raise awareness about these important issues so that we can keep our residents safe. I am pleased that this conference brought together people from across Essex and beyond to find out how we can better support vulnerable people.”
And Cllr Jim Gordon Uttlesford District Council’s portfolio lead member for Community Safety said: “Working in partnership with Essex Police as part of our community safety partnership, we want to draw people’s attention to these hidden harms, such as child sexual exploitation, gang culture and modern slavery which are increasingly more evident in our community. It is important that we raise awareness of the dangers that they bring and ensure that vulnerable people who could be affected are helped and fully supported.”
Acting Chief Supt Ewen Wilson from Essex Police said: “Anyone who works in a frontline role for councils and other public bodies needs to know what to look out for so that we can help people suffering real harm as early as possible. Events like these not only build awareness, they build partnerships and closer working. Hidden harm takes so many forms and cause so much damage to the fabric of our communities, so it’s vital we work together to ensure our help reaches vulnerable people who badly need it.”