Leeds Rhinos legends Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Jones-Buchanan back new campaign

Leeds Rhinos legends Kevin Sinfield MBE and Jamie Jones-Buchanan have thrown their weight behind a new campaign against domestic abuse, as reports have surged during lockdown.

Kevin Sinfield is putting his weight behind the campaign
Kevin Sinfield is putting his weight behind the campaign

Using the tagline “There’s no excuse for abuse”, the former Great Britain and England rugby league stars are urging people who think neighbours are in danger to alert the police, as part of a Leeds Rhinos Foundation and Inspire North campaign.

A report published by the Home Office Affairs Committee last month revealed that calls to the National Domestic Abuse helpline, run by Refuge, increased by 49 per cent in the week prior to 15 April and that research by Counting Dead Women calculated that at least 16 domestic abuse killings of women and children had taken place between 23 March and 12 April, double that of an average 21-day period in the last decade.

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Sinfield said it was “everyone’s responsibility to speak out and alert the authorities” if they suspect someone is suffering domestic violence.

He added: “A huge team effort by us all can make a big difference to improve the lives of those experiencing abuse. Don’t ignore cries for help. If you believe someone is in immediate danger of domestic abuse, stay safe yourself and dial 999.”

Jones-Bucanan said: “In these unprecedented times, where the vast majority of us are helping each other out, it is a massive concern that for too many people lockdown for them is feeling scared, isolated and dangerously vulnerable. If you are experiencing domestic abuse, if you think a neighbour or a loved one may be being abused, call the police. There’s no excuse for abuse.”

The campaign encourages people to show their support by posting videos and photos of themselves on social media holding a piece of paper with the hashtag #noexcuseforabuse, and to then tag two people to pass the message on.

Bob Bowman QPM, chief operating officer of Leeds Rhinos Foundation, is a former Leeds-based police officer. He said: “For some, lockdown means spending all day, every day with the person who physically abuses them in their own home. I spent 29 years in the police service where I all too often had to deal with the consequences of domestic abuse. Leeds Rhinos Foundation is very proud to be working with Inspire North on this important campaign which could, quite literally, save lives.”

Ruth Kettle, chief executive of Inspire North, said: “We’re very grateful to the Leeds Rhinos Foundation for joining us on this campaign and hopeful that this is the start of a long-term partnership to raise awareness of domestic abuse, and the support services that are available across the North of England. The backing of such a high-profile team is crucial in helping to get this message out there.”

West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson OBE is also backing the campaign.

He said: “I very much welcome this joint campaign and anything we can do collectively to raise awareness about domestic abuse to help those who are suffering in order to access the help and support they really need is vital.

“As PCC, I am responsible for commissioning local support services for victims of crime, alongside my local government partners who I also provide funding to. This includes services for women, children and men experiencing domestic and sexual abuse.

“Nationally, I also lead on the serious violence portfolio for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) and I’m committed to continuing to raise awareness, and further investment to be put in place for appropriate interventions for perpetrators as well as the victims.

“I want those individuals who need help and support to know they have not been forgotten. There are local and national support services that can help, and I want them to know how they can access this support and that we can help during these really challenging times, whether or not someone feels able to report to the Police.

“If you are in immediate danger, you must call 999 and those who feel they are unable to speak or feel too scared to do so after placing the call, you can press 55 on your phone to alert the police.”