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PCC is ‘changing the story’ to tackle violence against women and girls as White Ribbon Day is observed today

25 November 2023

The Police and Crime Commissioner, Donna Jones, says she remains resolute in doing all she can to eradicate violence against women and girls (VAWG) across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight as countries around the world mark World Ribbon Day.

The day of action, on 25 November 2023, is a global movement to educate, raise awareness and campaign to change the cultures and attitudes that lead to violence against women and girls.

This year’s theme is #ChangeTheStory with individuals and organisations being urged to #ChangeTheStory for women and girls and put an end to gender-based violence.

White Ribbon Day, also known as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW), marks the start of 16 days of action that end on Human Rights Day on 10 December.

PCC Donna Jones said: “White Ribbon’s mission is to prevent violence against women and girls by addressing its root causes, and by coming together to change long established and harmful attitudes that often result in men’s violence against women and girls.

“Every corner of our society needs to take responsibility for driving a seismic shift in attitudes towards preventing abusing and violent behaviour against women and girls, with leaders and educators stepping up to take a pivotal role that produces real change for the long term.”

This summer, the PCC called for all licensing authorities in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to introduce mandatory CCTV in taxis and private hire vehicles. It followed the conviction of a taxi driver in Southampton in May 2023 who was jailed for sexually assaulting a woman.

The CCTV evidence in the taxi led to the conviction and prevented the victim from having to go through a trial due to the conclusive evidence.

Southampton and Portsmouth already require CCTV to be fitted, and Gosport and Fareham Borough Councils agreed to introduce the measure following the Police Commissioner’s calls.

PCC Donna Jones added: “I’m making sure this campaign keeps up its momentum and while my ambition as Commissioner is to encourage all local councils to follow suit, nationally I will continue to lobby the government to make sure all passengers and drivers alike are afforded the maximum protection.”

The Police Commissioner also launched a VAWG Task Group two years ago comprising of police, the CPS, the probation service, local authorities, judges, commissioned VAWG providers, and health authorities from across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to tackle violence against women and girls in the two counties.

The breadth of agencies involved meant it was one of the first of its kind in the country, and since its inception the Group has worked on understanding what VAWG looks like across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, building confidence with women and girls to increase reporting, speeding up the legal process to ensure swifter justice for victims, and improving the response to managing offenders.

The PCC has been the driving force behind the partnership approach and has funded multiple projects with local authorities to stem the VAWG threat including securing millions of pounds of funding for ‘Safer Streets’ and ‘Safety of Women at Night’ initiatives throughout Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

PCC Donna Jones said: “I’m making sure that councils, health and education services, the voluntary and community sector as well as the wider support services for young people and families all work alongside the police and the criminal justice system to ensure that women and girls are protected from all forms of abuse.

“They must be allowed to live their lives free from the fear of violence so I’m committed to making sure this interlinked approach, alongside continous engagement within communities, continues across our two counties.”

Over the last 12 months, the following projects and initiatives for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have been achieved or announced by the PCC:

  • The investment of more than £350K to tackle the behaviour of serial and repeat domestic abuse (DA) perpetrators via Project Foundation.
  • A VAWG problem profile was formed through surveys, focus groups and interviews which was presented at a high-profile VAWG event.
  • The creation of a dashboard to provide an overview of services to reduce offending as part of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary’s response to DA perpetrators.
  • A new Multi-Agency Stalking Partnership (MASP) designed to reduce the risk of reoffending amongst stalkers following a successful bid to the Home Office of more than a million pounds in funding.
  • A new Stalking Advocacy and Support Service (SASS) providing independent and specialist support to stalking victims.
  • Provided funding for Project CARA (Cautioning and Relationship Abuse) with awareness raising workshops for domestic abuse offenders.
  • Supporting victims of sexual violence with the start of a multi-million pound contract for the new combined Frankie Worker Service and all-age Sexual Crime Therapeutic Service.
  • New contracts to further protect victims of sexual violence with Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) services.
  • Securing over £2.5M of uplift funding from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) for victims of domestic abuse and sexual abuse in 2023/24.

In early 2023, violence against women and girls was considered a national threat for the first time and was added to the Strategic Policing Requirement (SPR) by the Home Secretary, recognising the risk it presents to public safety and confidence.

The SPR sets clear expectations on police to tackle VAWG and how PCCs and Chief Constables must focus resources and work with others effectively to bring about collaborative change.