Women are being urged to “call it out” in a new Cumbria police campaign to better protect women from domestic abuse, sexual assault, harassment, and stalking.

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall is calling for a change in culture to help protect women.

The PCC in partnership with others is working improve services and provide support to those who have experienced these crimes.

Mr McCall has revealed a new “Call It Out” campaign to be launched by the police in the next few days.

He has asked women and girls to come forward and share their “lived experience” to provide the evidence to put resource in the right place to address the things that make them feel threatened or unsafe.

In the past 12 months, 7,569 cases of crimes against women were recorded in Cumbria including 2,809 for stalking and harassment, 1,825 for violence with injury, 2,923 for violence without injury, ten deaths or serious injuries due to unlawful driving, and two homicides. Over 2,500 of the perpetrators were current or ex-partners, just under 600 perpetrators were friends/acquaintances and 534 were strangers to the victim.

Mr McCall, said: “The appalling abduction and murder of Sarah Everard is a tragedy and a wake-up call that we need to change our culture and do more to protect women in our communities.

“No woman should feel harassed and unsafe under any circumstances.

“We need to continue to listen to the lived experiences of women in Cumbria and work together to reduce these criminal behaviours through awareness raising, education and correcting societal issues around victim-blaming language and placing sole responsibility on women to protect themselves.”

“The public response to events last weekend clearly tells us that we still do not fully understand the extent of harassment and a sense of not feeling safe, experienced by too many women and girls.

“We need to have a better understanding of these crimes many of which almost certainly go unreported.

“That is why I’m asking everyone who has felt threatened or harassed in any way to ‘Call it Out.’

“Tell us about it so that we can focus the right resource to address it and help everyone to feel safe.

“Let’s all start the culture change by ‘Calling Out’ sexual harassment for the crime that it is.

“For those who are affected we do already have several services outside the Police that I

work with and help to fund three women’s centres - Women’s Community Matters in Barrow, Women Out West in Whitehaven and Gateway 4 Women in Carlisle - they have lots of expertise and experience and can provide help to any woman who has experienced sexual violence and domestic abuse.

“The Bridgeway, also known as the Sexual Abuse Referral Centre, provides support and forensic examinations, if agreed to by the victim, to those who have experienced rape or sexual assault.

“Funding has also been provided to therapeutic services and counselling who help victims of rape and sexual assault cope and recover, Safety Net offering support to those in the north and west of the county and Birchall Trust offering their services to the south of Cumbria.

“I also provide funding for Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) who offer practical and emotional support to those who have experienced sexual assault and rape to help survivors recover emotionally and mentally and can be accessed through the Bridgeway or Victim Support.

“Keep Safe is also available to survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. The service provides a home security check by trained officers, advice and corrections are offered to secure any easy-access points around the home. Trusted fitters will then secure loose door frames, fix extra locks and provide security alarms – free of charge to the victim.

“I want to reassure every woman in Cumbria that the Police are here to protect you, if you feel unsafe we want to help, and, if you have experienced sexual assault, rape or domestic abuse to please report it to the Police – your report will be taken seriously.”

“Please don’t suffer in silence, we’ve heard the call too many times that enough is enough so let’s Call It Out and make a better future for all women.”