Two years work came to fruition when I celebrated the training of 100 domestic abuse champions.
I visited Stoke-on-Trent City Council, who have followed in the footsteps of other businesses such as The Donna Louise Children’s Hospice, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, Keele University, Burton Albion Community Trust and many more to see the training in action and meet the 100th champion.
The programme was launched in 2015 as part of efforts to offer better support for victims of domestic abuse.
Nine members of staff at Stoke-on-Trent City Council have now received the free in-depth training which provides information and guidance for nominated staff members to spot tell-tale signs of abuse and give practical and confidential guidance to colleagues.
Recorded incidents for domestic abuse in Staffordshire show that over 16,000 cases were reported in 2016. Such crime is estimated to cost the economy £23 billion a year – including £1.7 billion for employers alone and that is just the financial cost.
Domestic abuse has a devastating impact on victims and can affect the whole of their lives – including their work. Victims are likely to suffer in silence for a long time before talking to anyone about what they are going through.
However, managers and colleagues at work may notice changes in their behaviour – such as problems with concentration, anxiety, dips in work quality, regularly arriving late or leaving early – which could signal abuse at home.
By signing up, Stoke-on-Trent City Council alongside many other local businesses are going public with their commitment to tackling domestic abuse and show a clear commitment to supporting staff who are victims in a sensitive way.
To find out more or to sign your business up visit http://www.staffordshire-pcc.gov.uk/domestic-abuse/.
Today I unveiled a ground-breaking survey into the true state of cyber crime in Staffordshire.
I’ve spearheaded work ( with my wonderful colleagues at the office) to show the true extent of the cyber crime epidemic and the victims it leaves in its wake, said the survey, the first of its kind to be carried out in the county, shows the level of crime identified is actually just the tip of the iceberg.
This survey shows the number of crimes is at least double the amount Staffordshire Police is currently aware of and that is shocking, because we know the majority of cyber crime is still unreported by individuals and businesses.
We’ve pioneered a new approach with the creation of an online fraud partnership forum, which brings together a wide variety of organisations and law enforcement to tackle online fraud together for the first time.
We have ensured cyber crime victims are supported in Staffordshire with help from the Victims’ Gateway, which is unique to the county thanks to the police and crime commissioner’s office.
Key findings from the survey are:
- 62,000 internet users were victims of at least one cyber crime but the majority are still unreported
- 16,250 victims did not report the incidents. Of those who did only 14% reported it to the police or Action Fraud
- 46,000 of those who go online with dependents under 18 have not taken measures to protect them.
- 146,000 of those who go online have not taken any measures to protect themselves.
The county-wide survey forms part of a cyber-crime awareness week launched in Staffordshire by Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis, who is shining the spotlight on the issue and calling for a review of Action Fraud, the national body for reporting cyber crime and online fraud.
The survey provides a snapshot of over 1,100 households in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, where all those aged 16 and over were interviewed. The results give an indication of the current situation and will now help build a clearer picture for the future.
The survey demonstrates that potentially 62,000 internet users across Staffordshire were victims of at least one cyber attack. Of these, only 12% reported the incident to the police and 2% reported to Action Fraud.
The survey highlights a cause for concern with 1 in 5 internet users not taking any steps to protect themselves online. Worryingly, over a third of respondents with young people in their household had not taken any steps at all to protect them from a cyber attack.
The results highlight the need to stay ahead of the cyber criminals and it is apparent more work needs to be undertaken to combat this ever-growing threat.
This research, for the first time, paints a picture of how cyber crime is truly affecting people of all ages across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and gives us a starting point to shape how we tackle it from now on.
The picture above denotes that cybercrime knows no barriers from the very young to the not so young!
The way cyber crime is dealt with needs to change and change quickly if we’re going to have a chance of fighting this huge threat effectively and giving victims the justice they deserve.
I celebrated International Women’s Day with a group of women from Stoke-on-Trent today.
I talked to the guests at the North Staffordshire YMCA event about my life journey and how I got to where I am today.
I was one of three women speakers working in demanding high profile roles, including Abi Brown, Deputy Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Helen Chadwick from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service.
International Women’s Day, celebrated on 8 March every year, has taken the theme of ‘women in the changing world of work’ for 2017.
It is incredibly important that we inspire and empower the women and girls in our communities and beyond to believe they can do anything in today’s society. There should be no limit to their aspirations and ambitions, anything is possible.
I was delighted to share the stage today with two great role models in the form of Abi and Helen who demonstrate every day to girls and women in Staffordshire just what is possible.
A spokesperson from North Staffordshire YMCA said:
‘We wanted to support International Women’s Day, to celebrate all of the amazing women across the world.
‘We partnered with Hanley Park to deliver a range of activities here in Stoke on Trent, and as part of that, we wanted to give women an opportunity to listen to the experiences of others and the challenges that we all face.
‘We are delighted that the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner has joined us and raised the aspirations of women in our local communities’
The event was attended by approximately 50 people from across Stoke-on-Trent from all walks of like.
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner (DPCC), Sue Arnold is calling for an end to the insensitive and unfair practice of charging victims of domestic abuse money to receive a medical letter to prove they have been abused.
Mrs Arnold said: “It is insulting to these victims that they are being charged up to £300 to receive a letter to prove that they have been a victim of this crime.
“People experiencing domestic abuse should be offered support to help remove them from their situation not be presented with obstacles to make leaving even more difficult.
“These victims and their families go through a terrible and often prolonged ordeal which can affect them for the rest of their lives.
“Victims face many practical and emotional obstacles when leaving an abusive relationship. These can vary from housing problems, childcare and money issues but many victims
suffer in silence for a long time before talking to anyone about what they are going through.
“I would urge the Secretary of State for Health to review this callous practice.”
Making sure that different organisations across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent work together to provide better services which are cost effective has been a priority of Police and Crime Commissioner for Staffordshire, Matthew Ellis’ since he came into office in 2013.
As part of this priority a workplace-based initiative was set up in 2015 by DPCC Sue Arnold to offer better support for victims of domestic abuse. Organisations who sign-up to the programme – at no cost to themselves – commit to taking steps to support staff in abusive relationships and make sure victims are aware that help is available.
In Staffordshire domestic abuse has risen by 18% with over 13,000 crimes reported over the last 12 months.
You can find out more at www.staffordshire-pcc.gov.uk/domestic-abuse/
Friends, Yam-Yams and countrymen and women . . . you can take the girl out of Walsall but you can’t take Walsall out of the girl
LIKE most people I don’t always instantly agree with the utterances of a rival but London mayoral hopeful David Lammy hit the nail on the head the other day when he said that never again must politicians “lose touch” with those who support them.
Lamenting Labour’s failings in the 2015 General Election, he warned: “Listen or learn from the public, or be taught a harsh lesson at the ballot box.”
It made me take stock as I pen the last blog of my incredible six-month campaign journey to return Walsall South into safe Conservative hands for the first time in 45 years.
And a week on from the long night at the university’s Walsall Campus Sports Centre, I’ve had time to reflect on my mission.
I watched with more than a little green-eyed jealousy at the pictures of the new Tory intake of MPs posing with David Cameron – next to him my dear friend Craig Tracey who has increased the Conservative majority in what had been the country’s most marginal seat in North Warwickshire.
His opponent, ex Labour minister Mike O’Brien was 9-2 ON to win the seat at the bookies before last Thursday’s vote. Good on you Craig.
But was I wrong (or naive) to believe that I should – like Craig – have defied the pollsters and pundits and joined the Tory tide that swept across many parts of England and Wales, returning David Cameron to No10 Downing Street without the need of a Lib-Dem Coalition partner to prop up, and water down, the administration?
It would have been a delight to be one of the 191 women in this parliament (up to 30 per cent of the 650 intake) and I’m more than a little pleased to see that this time round the PM has given important roles to female Tories.
Ten women now grace the cabinet including Pensions Minister Ros Altmann, Employment Minister Priti Patel, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd and Treasury Economic Secretary Harriet Baldwin.
As a businesswoman of 35 years standing, I’m most envious of ex-journalist and criminal barrister Anna Soubry who has been handed the unprecedented title of small business minister.
Certainly the country will be better served in the next five years with a Tory-only government that just didn’t seem remotely possible until that BBC exit poll – and then at 1.52am the now pivotal result from Nuneaton with Tory colleague Marcus Jones increasing his majority from 2,000 to 5,000 in a crucial Labour target seat.
My own result in Walsall South saw my opponent Valerie Vaz increase her majority to 6,000 with a 5.03 per cent swing away from the Conservatives to Labour.
Why did it happen? In Walsall South the Lib Dem’s lost votes went to Labour, and the doubling of UKIP votes on 2010 went against us.
The demographics of Walsall South also played their part, the highest child poverty record in the Midlands and the soaring percentage of benefit claimants.
This disappointing outcome, for me personally, was at least repeated across the metropolitan areas of Britain. Labour took or regained every seat in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, West Bromwich, Coventry, Manchester, Liverpool and the North East as well as large swathes of inner London.
The dramatic vote collapse of our former Lib-Dem Coalition partners and the Ukip squeeze certainly had an effect in the cities and big towns while smaller urban areas, the country at large and shire counties had different political ideas – thank goodness.
Was it a good, clean fight? Well I had to deal with twitter trolls, nuisance calls, including a strip-tease offer, and one proposition.
My greatest fear had been the Lib Dem vote, more than 5,900 in 2010, and my anxiety proved right on this one.
We worked diligently with the previous Lib Dem candidate to support our campaign but were dealt ‘a blow’ when he erected one of Valerie Vaz’s boards in his garden, despite his verbal proclamation to support us.
There was much talk of alleged electoral fraud hotspots in Walsall (which we believe we witnessed and certainly heard about first hand).
Perhaps those postal votes, delivered to the council offices on election day and brought into the count in the early hours of last Friday, were nearest the knuckle. They certainly shifted the balance on the piles of votes towards Labour as dawn broke.
So am I a sore loser, I hear you ask? Only from a wearing down of my toenails and a weight loss point of view during the most hectic six months of my life.
At 55 I’m not in my first flush of youth – like SNP winner Mhairi Black, who at 20 is the youngest MP for 350 years – but I feel I couldn’t have worked any harder in my bid to serve the people of Walsall South.
I received tremendous support from all quarters but in the end the valiant effort was not enough. We fought a clean and positive battle and undoubtedly our efforts to win the war were rewarded in the national picture.
On the plus side I took as compliments our opponent’s comments about running a “slick, advertising campaign”, increasing our profile and even the suggestion I had turned up to be photographed picking litter dressed like I was going out for a “night at the Savoy”. The coat was actually from M & S!
There’s nothing pure about politics but I can have few complaints.
While I enjoyed following the Saddlers to Wembley for the first time in Walsall FC’s 127-year history and being with Walsall-born Slade frontman Noddy Holder at the Christmas lights switch-on, it’s right to say that politics is not about personalities, photo opportunities or social media, it’s about people.
As I knocked on a door in Palfrey for the third time (along with thousands of others), I was constantly buoyed up by our constituency chairman Peter Washbrook’s words at the start of the campaign when he talked about me being a candidate with “impeccable local credentials and a campaigning zeal to work for the good of the electorate of Walsall South.”
Although not a winner on this occasion perhaps, as he suggested, we have begun the “job of returning a much-needed Conservative MP for the people of this constituency.”
Right at the end of the campaign I was thrilled that individuals took the time to tell me my contribution in promoting Tory values in Walsall South should “never be forgotten” and as a result at least one person had been persuaded to join the Conservative party and work for it in future.
But, regardless of the above the electorate have spoken and I respect its decision.
Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is by far the greater sin.
Returning to Mr Lammy’s wise words I hope that in Walsall’s case that the public are not “taught a harsh lesson” by their democratic intent.
Born, bred and schooled in Walsall – as well as launching the Walsall Advertiser at the age of 21 – I will be watching the progress of the incumbent MP in “putting the people of Walsall first” at Westminster.
One good thing did come out of Walsall on election night 2015.
For as the Tories secured their first majority in 23 years by repeating the performance of John Major in 1992 who defied the polls, as well as the critics, we must remember that his father – a humble circus performer called Tom Major-Ball – was Walsall born and bred.
As I complete my last Walsall South blog, I feel strangely re-energised.
They’ll be no need for the words of advice on becoming the ‘freshers’ in Westminster . . . no need to take up bike riding (I do it already) . . . I’ll still be able to chat to people on the bus (and not freak them out) . . . and won’t have to talk endlessly about ‘almond flat white’ being my new coffee mate.
The post traumatic campaign stress is behind me. I’m already reacquainted with housework and my darling husband John, who’s followed me every step of the campaign, has had his first cooked meal from ME in six months as well as discreetly removing the posters from the campaign wagon and the banners around the town.
My business associates have heard my ‘Yam-Yam’ voice again and I’ve resumed my duties as deputy police and crime commissioner for Staffordshire.
Even the Jack Russells can’t believe I’m home to stay.
Sue Arnold, local girl, local champion and still working for the local community.
WSD – Walsall South Day – I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
Now I can’t stop singing this little ditty I’ve made up, borrowed extensively from Harry Williams’ famous Tipperary tune.
It’s a long way to Walsall South then,
It’s a long way to go,
It’s a long way to the arboretum,
And the sweetest town I know.
Goodbye, Pheasey Park Farm,
Farewell, Market Square,
It’s a long way to Walsall South now,
But my heart’s still there.
Friends, Yam-Yams and countrymen and women . . . you can take the girl out of Walsall but you can’t take Walsall out of the girl.
10 reasons why you should vote Conservative today to keep David Cameron in No 10 Downing Street as the UK’s ‘first choice’ prime minister.
The polling stations in Walsall South extending right across this great land of ours are waiting to be unlocked – as the nation prepares to vote.
As I prepare myself for ELECTION DAY, I’d like you to look at my 10 reasons why you should vote today and put your cross next to the name of a Conservative candidate to ensure the return of David Cameron in No 10 Downing Street in the morning.
Whatever your intentions – please exercise your democratic right and vote at your allotted polling station.
HAPPY Walsall South Day . . . and here’s your Top Ten reminders which is the SERIOUS side of what you want to happen in the next FIVE YEARS as you place that cross on the ballot paper.
All we ask for is fairer society in which to live and raise our families.
A record three out of four Brits are in work, the highest since records began . . . that’s 31.05 million people.
Britain enjoyed the fastest growth in the G7 countries last year with 1.75 million more jobs and youth unemployment down by 175,000.
The Conservatives have promised 3 MILLLION new apprentices by 2020
BUSINESS AND PROSPERITY
760,000 more business since 2010
Last year the economy of West Midlands added more jobs than the whole of France put together.
In a survey this week of fastest growing companies in the UK, SEVEN out of 10 said the Conservatives had the best policies to support business expansion.
Britain’s hard-working nation is already £28.3billion better off, thanks to Tory tax cuts.
The typical taxpayer has an extra £800-a-year in their pocket since Chancellor George Osborne raised personal allowances from £6,475 to £10,000 between May 2010 and last month.
The best-paid one per cent in the UK is now paying MORE in taxation to the Treasury than ever . . . 27 per cent of the nation’s income tax.
New laws will free up to ONE MILLION people from income tax if the Conservatives win this election today with tax allowance of £12,500 planned
There will be NO TAX to pay if you are working 30 hours on minimum wage
7,049 extra nurses since 2010
9,500 more NHS doctors since 2010
7-DAY NHS by 2020
£8bn extra NHS funding planned by 202
Conservative administration secured additional increases in state pensions with more to come up to 2020
Unlocked private pension regulations for over 55s
The 2010-15 Conservative administration has built record numbers of low-cost homes and by 2020 we intend to build 400,000 just on brownfield sites alone including 200,000 starter homes
Introduced Help To Buy legislation to assist with FIVE per cent mortgage deposits
Plans for Right To Buy for housing association tenants
Benefits per household to be cut from £26,000 and capped at £23,000
Deliver 30 hours FREE childcare for working parents of 3 and 4-year-olds in DOUBLING of childcare benefits
Controlled not mass immigration. We believe that immigration brings benefits to Britain – to our economy, our culture and our national life.
Tackling illegal immigration and ensuring that people come here for the right reasons and in the right way.
Cracking down on abuse by clamping down on bogus colleges, tackling sham marriages, and making it harder for people to remain in the country illegally.
Working to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers, we have quadrupled the fine for paying below minimum wage.
It’s down 20 per cent since we came to power in 2010, we’re winning the battle
Let’s not forget.
While we naturally think about our own village, town, city, county or region . . . it’s important to remember the UK capital is being watched the world over as a litmus test of the nation’s health and wealth.
And since 2010 when the Conservatives formed a Coalition government with the Lib Dems then London has seen:
- 215,000 more businesses
- 527,000 more jobs
- Youth unemployment down 59 per cent
AS I approach the final 24 hours of campaigning to win the Walsall South seat for the Conservatives, it’s worth remembering that the bigger picture for the nation’s vote tomorrow is about the future of the UK and the wellbeing of its people.
What benefits the UK will benefit Walsall South – conversely what happens in our constituency will have an impact on the rest of the country.
The Conservative-led Coalition government under Prime Minister David Cameron has acted in the best interests of the nation.
It has been good for Walsall as well as the nation with policies that have helped create jobs, reduce crime, improve schools and assist more people to buy their own home.
The government that had to stabilise the economy back in 2010 has helped generate prosperity which in turn protects the vulnerable and brings succour to the needy.
We can NEVER take prosperity as a given.
As I start my last full day of canvassing across the constituency, bear in mind that in the last 48 hours David Cameron has been dashing the length and breadth of country in a 1,300-mile final bid to tell the nation that voting Conservative on Thursday May 7 means MORE jobs, MORE tax cuts and MORE homes for young families.
I’m sure that’s the good news everyone wants to hear as the finishing line of this 2015 general election is in sight.
Walsall South Day (WSD) is dawning and how you cast your precious vote tomorrow is all about YOU.
Thank you all for listening . . . and for all the good wishes and support I’ve received over the past months of the campaign.