A campaign to tackle violence against women has moved up a gear with special window stickers being put in all 250 police vehicles in North Wales.
The move has been championed by PC Mike Taggart, 37, whose mother was stabbed to death by his brutal stepfather when he was just 15 year of age.
The traumatic experience inspired PC Taggart to join North Wales Police and he is now the force’s Strategic Domestic Abuse Officer.
The White Ribbon stickers are part of an international initiative established by men to end all forms of violence against women and girls.
The first sticker was placed on a police patrol car by PC Taggart and North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones.
Tackling domestic violence is one of the main priorities in the commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan, the blueprint for policing North Wales, and he has provided funding for the campaign.
Mr Jones, a former police inspector, is also supporting another scheme to offer free training for hair salon staff across North Wales to raise awareness and help them recognise signs of domestic abuse.
According to PC Taggart, fixing the White Ribbon stickers to the police vehicles also sent out an important message about an issue which is hugely important to him.
He and his sister, Becci, were utterly bereft when their mum was murdered at her flat in Rhyl in 1997 by estranged husband Derek Evans after years of vicious alcohol-fuelled abuse.
Evans disliked her new-found independence after she started working with people with learning disabilities and once after she had been for a drink with friends, he attacked her in the street.
She left him but there was no escape and Evans went round to her new flat and stabbed her 11 times.
PC Taggart said: “There were no defence wounds. She must have died instantly.
“He told the court he couldn’t remember anything but he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum tariff of 11 years.
“The trauma that my family went through is one of the things that pushed me to the job to help people who are victims of domestic abuse.
“North Wales Police has been very proactive in this area and there has been a renewed determination to tackle domestic violence since Arfon Jones became the Police and Crime Commissioner.
“Mr Jones is also keen to become a White Ribbon Ambassador which shows he is very passionate about the issue.
“I am grateful to him for providing funding for the White Ribbon stickers and for his support for the hairdressers’ campaign.
“He has been extremely proactive in highlighting the campaign and making sure people know what the signs are and how to promote coming forward, and how to help police endeavours to tackle it.
“People used to assume domestic abuse was only about things like sexual and physical abuse buy attention is now also focused on emotional abuse, exerting control without using violence.
“It’s also about isolating people not just in terms of location but also mentally by keeping them away from their circle of friends and family.
“It’s been highlighted quite a lot on television recently about gaslighting as well which is basically making your victims believe something is happening that isn’t necessarily going on.
As a result, the victim becomes more dependent and makes them turn to the perpetrator for advice and support.
“On a personal level it’s amazing to see the steps being taken and the importance of the issue is being driven forward as well.
“It was 22 years ago that we lost my mum, and I think if this issue was this much in people’s minds then and it was brought to people’s attention in the same way it may well have pushed her to leave sooner and saved her life.
Arfon Jones added: “By having these White Ribbon stickers on all police vehicles more people will see what they can do to address the issue of domestic violence and to spread the word that it’s unacceptable.
“There are signs that people have more confidence to come forward now and that’s an important message to get out. Increasing numbers of survivors are reporting it, and victims are coming forward. That’s positive. We encourage people to come forward instead of suffering in silence.”
The service at the North Wales Victim Help Centre is available from 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 9am-5pm on Saturdays. It can be contacted by Freephone on 0300 30 30 159, by email at: [email protected], or via the websites www.victimhelpcentrenorthwales.org.uk or www.canolfangymorthiddioddefwyrgogleddcymru.org.uk