Pledge to tackle violence against women and girls
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) at their annual Summit have pledged their joint approach to improving the response to violence against women and girls (VAWG) through strengthening partnerships.
While positive steps have been taken in tackling VAWG, there is a clear recognition from policing that there is a long way to go. Recent His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) reports have highlighted some of the areas in which policing is still letting the public and victims down, and both the NPCC and the APCC are determined to take action.
This year the NPCC and College of Policing launched the first NPCC VAWG Framework and will be publishing the first set of baseline metrics over the coming weeks. The NPCC and the College of Policing have also published a review into misconduct which outlines the actions that will be taken forward.
Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) will continue to hold policing to the highest standards and ensure accountability for each recommendation and action stemming from internal and external reporting. PCCs have been delivering for victims through commissioning quality victims’ support services, investing in services to change perpetrator behaviour, and engaging victims to hear their voices and ensure needs are met. The APCC has also published its own VAWG Action Plan, setting out plans for tackling VAWG.
While policing leadership must drive much of this change, there is also a recognition from national policing that VAWG is a societal issue which policing alone will not be able to solve. There is a critical role that partners across England and Wales play in health, education, child protection, housing, local government and the wider criminal justice system alongside organisations which work in technology and the night-time economy.
Working together, three key priority areas have been identified and developed by listening to women and girls and proposing activity that they feel will make a real and sustained difference to their lives:
- Early intervention and prevention of child abuse and sexual harassment in educational settings
- A victim-focused approach to improving outcomes for victims of violence against women and girls
- Establish women and girls’ right to feel safe in public spaces and online
There is a different set of circumstances in Wales where policing operates in a devolved environment, working with Welsh Government and devolved agencies as well as partners across the Criminal Justice System. VAWG is a declared priority for both policing in Wales and for Welsh Government, with a joint blueprint setting out a shared approach to tackling violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence. The Criminal Justice Board for Wales includes non-devolved agencies (Probation, Court Service, Crown Prosecution Service as well as Police) and bodies that come under the aegis of Welsh Government (Public Health Wales, Welsh Local Government Association, Youth Justice Teams etc) with a shared focus on prevention and on meeting the needs of victims, but Police Leaders also play an active role in addressing VAWG with colleagues across England and Wales through the APCC and the NPCC.
DCC Maggie Blyth, National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Violence Against Women and Girls, said: “As we start the second year of the national policing focus on violence against women and girls, we continue to be committed to deliver effective and long-lasting solutions to keep women and girls safe. The police alone cannot solve violence against women and girls as it’s a societal problem which needs societal input. Today we are pledging our commitment to work alongside the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and other key partners to deliver societal change.
“We will work together to support victims but we are also clear that it is the behaviour of those who harm women and girls and cause them to feel unsafe whose actions must be challenged. Violence against women and girls is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by society.”
Donna Jones and Sophie Linden, Joint Victims’ Lead, Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, said: “On behalf of all victims and survivors, more must be done to address the failings in the current system which are letting down women and girls; it is not good enough. It is PCCs’ top priority to hold policing and partners to account for delivering better outcomes on VAWG. PCCs are at the forefront of driving local partnerships. It is our role to convene partnerships and to hold policing to account for delivering positive change. Despite the good first steps that have been taken by policing, there is still a long way to go and it is crucial that VAWG is prioritised across all sectors to develop a public health approach which supports true societal change. It’s only by bringing partners together that we can weave the golden thread of VAWG activity throughout social policy. We look forward to developing our partnership statement of intent together with the NPCC so we can deliver positive change for women and girls.”