Sussex Police are investigating an increasing number of missing people every year. Since 2018 the number has doubled from around 4,500 to over 9,500. This means that volunteer search teams are becoming increasingly important, as our Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne OBE explains.
On Saturday, I joined Search Dogs Sussex and Sussex Search and Rescue on one of their largest missing person training exercises. With almost 50 volunteers and numerous trained dogs, they dramatically simulated a real-life callout in a local woodland area.
These volunteers are on call 24 hours a day to support police and emergency services when looking for vulnerable missing people. They can make the difference between life and death.
I was really impressed with the dedication and enthusiasm shown by all. Sussex is fortunate to have so many trained and dedicated volunteers available to help out in emergencies.
Sexual abuse of any kind can have a significant and long-lasting impact on those who experience it. Being able to access support at a time which is right for a victim can help them cope with their experience and navigate the often complex criminal justice system.
With more victims than ever before coming forward and seeking help, it was important to increase the funding for local specialist support services. This year I invested a total of £470k, including a recent uplift of £135k for outreach workers and additional counselling.
On Monday I met with Survivors Network; Life Centre; Counselling Plus Community; Rape Crisis Surrey & Sussex and Mankind. They spoke about the survivors that they have been able to support with this funding and the positive impact this had made to their lives.
I also met a mum called Claire who knows firsthand how sexual abuse can impact a victim and those closest to them. Her daughter was sexually assaulted at a young age and she described the moment she found out as though a ‘bomb had gone off’.
Claire said: “I can’t thank the police and support services enough. Both the officer working the case and Survivors Network checked in all the time and because of this constant support my daughter was able to give her evidence in court. She is now getting counselling from Life Centre and this is helping her so much. We are working towards a new normal for our family.”
If you have been a victim of sexual abuse you can find help and support on Safe Space Sussex.
Katy Bourne OBE
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner