THE elected leader of Northumbria Police has vowed to make violence against women socially unacceptable during her time in the job.
The force’s first Police and Crime Commissioner told The Journal she believes the level of domestic violence in 2012 is shamefully high.
And she has pledged to work with Northumbria Police to do all she can to tackle the problem, which often remains unseen and unreported.
Speaking at the launch of the force’s Christmas campaign entitled Are you walking on eggshells? Ms Baird said: “There is still a long way to go. We have to drag ourselves into 2012.
“We have changed the public perception of things like drink-driving and now we have to make violence against women socially unacceptable too.”
In a bid to make women safer this Christmas, Northumbria Police has joined forces with women’s refuges across the North East to help victims and raise awareness.
The campaign was launched by Chief Constable Sue Sim and Ms Baird at a women’s refuge at a secret location yesterday.
A special helpline number that women can ring when they need help is now being publicised across Tyne & Wear and Northumberland in shopping centres, doctors’ surgeries and on toilet doors.
Mrs Sim said: “Whatever form domestic abuse takes, it’s rarely a one-off incident and usually involves a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour which can be physical, psychological, sexual, financial or emotional.
“It happens in every part of our communities regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality, wealth and geography and is not just between partners but can be between family members.”
In the 12-month period from August 1, 2011 to July 31, 2012, there were 27,066 incidents in the Northumbria Police area involving some form of domestic abuse.
Ms Baird has been a lifelong campaigner on the issue of violence against women and part of her election manifesto was to tackle its effects.
She said: “This campaign sends out a clear message that there is help and support available for those suffering. But it also reinforces the fact that those who commit this crime will have to deal with the consequences of their actions.”
In an emergency, victims should ring 999. Independent and confidential advice is available by calling 0800 066 5555.