PCCs call for a new statutory duty requiring agencies to prevent Violence Against Women and Girls
APCC Victims Leads Sophie Linden and Donna Jones said: “It is tragic that it took the murder of Sarah Everard for society to recognise that violence against women and girls is an epidemic in this country.
"PCCs said at the time that a fundamental change of approach was needed, so we welcome the Government’s Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy, published today. Rightly, it sets out a whole system approach to tackling violence. But this will only succeed with sustainable funding.
"We want all victims to feel safe coming forward to report, knowing that the police will listen and confident that justice will be served. Currently, too many victims feel unable to support a prosecution, or later withdraw from the process. We must all work harder to earn their trust and we need services in place that enable this to happen.
"We are pleased the NPCC will be appointing a single lead officer for VAWG who PCCs can work closely with to deliver change at a national level. If more victims seeking help means the police record more crimes, then this is a trend to be celebrated, not scorned. This is especially true for particularly vulnerable groups such as disabled and migrant women; and for crime types where reporting is known to be appallingly low, such as FGM and so-called ‘honour-based’ violence. We must not let victims suffer in silence.
"It is essential that more perpetrators are brought to account for their offending, but we are clear that tackling VAWG over the long term is about much more than enforcement alone. PCCs want all partners to play their part and ensure victims are at the centre of all we do. This includes expediting cases through the courts and supporting victims every step of the way.
"PCCs are already commissioning specialist services which support victims in our communities, tailored to their needs and circumstances. We stand ready to do even more, but this requires sustainable funding. PCCs are already working with government to make a strong case for more, sustainable funding to support victims in the long term.
"At the same time, it is imperative that we work together to prevent crimes happening in the first place - through better education and awareness; by challenging misogyny and hate in society; and working to change repeat offenders' behaviour.
"PCCs call for a new statutory duty requiring key agencies to prevent harms caused by VAWG. In addition, we will continue to support improvements across our local criminal justice system through our roles as Chairs of Local Criminal Justice Boards."
Prevention Lead Festus Akinbusoye, the PCC for Bedfordshire, added: “We are pleased to see a focus on prioritising prevention within the strategy. PCCs are working closely with schools and community groups to ensure, from an early age, that children and young people learn about healthy relationships, consent, and how to seek help and support should they need it.
“PCCs are also using funding from the Home Office’s Safer Streets Fund and their own community safety budgets to invest in preventative measures for women and girls to feel safer in our communities. The new Safety of Women at Night Fund will enhance this approach and will see PCCs working closely with partners on projects that take into account the views of women and girls to ensure public spaces, including night-time economy areas, are made safer.”