Sussex Police has become the first police force in the country to gain White Ribbon Award status.
It has been awarded in recognition of its commitment to the global White Ribbon Campaign (WRC), ensuring men take more responsibility for reducing the level of violence against women.
The WRC aims to raise awareness and understanding and ensure services are provided in order to reduce the incidence of domestic violence and to give the local community increased support and understanding of the issue.
Sussex Chief Constable Martin Richards said: “Domestic abuse is still largely a hidden crime occurring behind closed doors.
“Last year we launched a campaign to encourage earlier reporting of domestic abuse and encourage its victims to talk to police and partner agencies and not suffer in silence.
“We want the crime of domestic abuse to be frowned upon as much as any other crime and for victims to be aware of the help and support that is available from both the police and partner agencies.
“To be the first police force in the country to be granted White Ribbon status recognises how seriously we take domestic abuse and our commitment to dealing with it.”
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, said: “Sussex Police is the first force in the country to be awarded White Ribbon status.
“The White Ribbon campaign focuses on the obligation of men to speak out against domestic abuse and violence to women.
“I am championing the issue of domestic abuse as a priority in my role and it is a key focus in our Police and Crime Plan. I am working closely with Chief Constable Martin Richards to ensure all Sussex officers and staff demonstrate their commitment to the campaign through the wearing of a white ribbon lapel pin and a number of other initiatives to raise awareness.”
The White Ribbon Award status was presented to Lewes District Council and the Community Safety Partnership in October 2012.
This was to help raise awareness of domestic abuse in the Lewes district and increase confidence in reporting it.
Chris Green, director of the White Ribbon Campaign, said: “Sussex Police have shown real leadership by becoming the first force to attain White Ribbon Status.
“This demonstrates their commitment to preventing violence against women, and we look forward to working with them to make sure that rape, sexual assault and domestic violence are all halted.”
The force’s White Ribbon status was launched by the Chief Constable, Mrs Bourne and Mr Green at the Gentleman of the Road Stopover Festival in Lewes on Saturday.
Charitable donations from the festival will be given to the WRC.