Government report: Urgent changes needed to tackle violence against women and girls

News / Fri 17th Sep 2021 at 06:40am

FUNDAMENTAL cross-system change is urgently needed to tackle an epidemic of violence against women and girls (VAWG), a new report has found.

Police response to violence against women and girls – Final inspection report

The report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) was commissioned by the Home Secretary in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard in March this year.

The inspectorate carried out a root and branch review of the policing response to VAWG, from prevention work in schools to the management of the most dangerous offenders.

HMICFRS said the police had made vast improvements in the response to VAWG over the last decade, including better identification of repeat victims and improved safeguarding measures.

But it also found several areas where the police need to improve, including grave concerns about the number of VAWG cases closed without charge, and major gaps in the data recorded on VAWG offences.

While the inspectorate has made several recommendations for immediate improvements to police practices, it concluded that the police cannot tackle VAWG alone. It said the whole system – including policing, health and education – must take a fundamentally new approach.

The inspectorate said the Government should consider legislating to create a new statutory duty for all partner agencies to work together to protect women and girls, similar to the existing framework for child protection.

HMICFRS has expanded on the recommendations from its interim report in July, including that:

  • there should be a radical refocus and shift in the priority given to VAWG offences by the police and all partners, including wrap-around, tailored support for victims;
  • chief constables should review and ensure that there are consistently high standards in the response to VAWG, including dealing with breaches of non-molestation orders, using Clare’s Law to protect potential domestic abuse victims, and identifying and managing the most dangerous VAWG perpetrators; and
  • there should be a national policing strategy to coordinate the response to VAWG.

Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham said: 

“We have a once in a generation opportunity to permanently uproot violence against women and girls, which is now epidemic in this country. The police have vastly improved how they respond to these crimes, and I welcome the appointment of a national policing lead for VAWG to coordinate this work.

“We’ve set out practical changes for the police to make now, but they cannot solve this alone. That is why we’re taking the unusual step of recommending a radical change of approach across the whole system, involving the police, criminal justice system, local authorities, health and education. We have suggested a new framework – with mandated responsibilities and sufficient funding – that requires all these partners to work together to support victims and prevent VAWG from happening in the first place.

“I am grateful to the Home Secretary for commissioning this inspection. It has allowed us to set out a way forward which, if acted on, will give women and girls the confidence that there is not only the will but also the power to end this epidemic.”

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1 Comment for Government report: Urgent changes needed to tackle violence against women and girls:

Clare Harrison McCartney
2021-09-17 13:06:05

Finally! So sad Sarah had to die to bring awareness to something that has plagued us women for eons. When I moved into the council flat I’m in now, I didn’t know who my neighbours were. One night I heard the man next door to me, shouting racist abuse which I was utterly shocked by. I’m a friendly person and I said hello to him on the stairs at Xmas, as you do when you live in a community like flats. After that, he targeted me , waiting until I got home at night and sat down on my sofa, which is the room next to his bedroom. He then would shout things at me, which I can’t repeat on here because they are deeply offensive. I contacted the police numerous times and a few times they brushed me off saying it was in my mind. I recorded him shouting at me and put it on YouTube and Twitter for evidence and then they actually believed me, opposed to saying I was making it up. Why the hell would I make something like that up! I’ve got better things to do that focus on a disgusting waste of skin who looks like the living dead who was abusing me verbally . The police got an order on him and he shut up for a while, but lock down happened and he started on me again. I’m not the type of person to sit back and take abuse, so I asked him one day when he was walking past my flat, what the hell was he shouting abuse at me like that for? He put his head down and ignored me. It took a lot for me to confront him because I’ve lived here five years scared out of my wits here, too scared to put my bins out because he’s probably lurking on the stairs. The whole thing sent me into mental health at pah hospital, it sent me over the edge, especially last year during lockdown when he shouted I’m going to rape and kill you. I can take name calling and weird staking tactics that only someone who is watching and listening to me would know, but threats like rape and death sent me over the edge. I got a ring doorbell and it picked his voice up shouting abuse at me one night when I was putting my key in my door. This evidence set well with the police and they FINALLY dealt with him saying he would be arrested if he carried on abusing me. I still live here though and I still have to be extremely vigilant when walking up to my flat and my front door. It’s not the way I want to live my life in constant fear in my own home in Harlow where I was born. I deserve better.

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