Christy Clark unveils Violence Free BC strategy in Surrey

SURREY — Premier Christy Clark was in town Friday to unveil a new Violence Free BC strategy to combat violence against women, which includes the addition of a victim services worker to Surrey’s Domestic Violence Unit.

Other commitments include new investments in school-based prevention programs and developing a provincial sexual assault policy.

The long-term plan includes support for local anti-violence support services and an upcoming campaign to raise awareness of the dangers women face.

The provincial government promises to contribute $3 million this year to the whole plan through civil forfeiture funds, and more in future years.

Premier Christy Clark said violence against women is not a women’s issue, but is “an issue for all of us in British Columbia.

“The Violence Free BC strategy is our roadmap to creating a province where each of us does our part, working together, to keep women safe from harm.”

Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton said stopping the violence “starts with all of us.”

Domestic violence killed 113 women in B.C. from 2004 to 2014, according to the province, and more than 12,300 police-reported victims of intimate partner violence throughout the province in 2013.

Chief Supt. Bill Fordy welcomes the news for Surrey.

“Our officers will work side-by-side with support workers, and together they’ll co-ordinate the investigation of cases and the support of victims who need to be brought to safety, often immediately,” he said.

“This integrated, holistic approach to dealing with issues of domestic violence will allow us to do more comprehensive risk assessment, safety planning and offender managing and monitoring.”

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said the move will allow police to be “better able to respond to the highest-risk domestic violence cases and provide and integrated approach to supporting victims and holding offenders accountable.

Sonya Boyce, executive director of Surrey Women’s Centre Society said it’s critical to have proper supports in place to make a difference in the lives of women who are being abused.

“Raising awareness… and funding anti-violence and prevention initiatives are concrete steps that government is taking in the right direction," Boyce said.

Last year’s throne speech promised a plan to help end domestic violence.

areid@thenownewspaper.com

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