HMICFRS report: Police response to violence against women and girls – Final Inspection Report
Response from: Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Hampshire
The current response to violence against women and girls (VAWG) is not good enough, more needs to be done in generating a safe space for women and girls. Whilst the police have a key role to play in tackling VAWG, it is a societal wide issue and we must all play our part in stopping it. How police respond to VAWG is pivotal, first and foremost for the victim, but also for the wider community. Having the confidence to come forward and report a crime to police is the first step, and how the victim is kept informed along the criminal justice process is a significant factor.
I want all victims to feel safe coming forward to report, knowing that the police will listen and feeling 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. Women and girls need to have faith in policing’s ability to keep them safe, just as policing needs the support of the public to police by consent.
It is tragic that it took the murder of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa for society to recognise that violence against women and girls (VAWG) is an epidemic in this country.
Hampshire Constabulary has been highlighted in this final inspection report for notable practice in the wellbeing strategy for its entire workforce, recognising the extra demands on those in child protection and safeguarding roles. We know that the overwhelming majority of police officers and staff are in their roles to support and protect victims of crime.
HMICFRS recognise the demand upon police from VAWG offences is rising, “the prevalence of these offences are shocking. For example, there were an estimated 2.3 million victims of domestic abuse in the year ending March 2020, 1.6 million of whom were female. Between 2009 and 2019, on average, one woman was killed by a man every three days in the UK.”
Nationally, as joint APCC Victims Lead I am committed to bringing criminal justice partners together to ensure we deliver improvements across local criminal justice services as set out in the interim report. Locally, as the Chair of the Local Criminal Justice Board, I can ensure that this is top of the agenda for all of the local partners who are delivering justice for victims and managing offenders.
As PCC I have recently created a joint VAWG task force with Hampshire Constabulary, where working together we can tackle and prevent these types of crimes, while emphasising more can be done by working in partnership with other criminal justice partners to provide specialist support services for victims and prevention of offending through early intervention working to change repeat offenders’ behaviour.
Police and Crime Commissioner
There should be an immediate and unequivocal commitment that the response to VAWG offences is an absolute priority for government, policing, the criminal justice system, and public sector partnerships. This needs to be supported at a minimum by a relentless focus on these crimes; mandated and clear responsibilities; and sufficient funding so that all partner agencies can work effectively as part of a whole-system approach to reduce and prevent the harms these offences are causing.
Tackling VAWG requires the input and action from across partnerships. As a leading voice for victims I will ensure the ongoing commitment to challenge not just the force, but our partner agencies to ensure the needs of the victim are kept at the heart of the CJS.
The relentless pursuit and disruption of adult perpetrators should be a national priority for the police, resourced with the appropriate level of capability and capacity.
We will continue to challenge Hampshire Constabulary on their proactive disruption of perpetrators, this include early detection to prevent ongoing and future harm to others.
Structures and funding should be put in place to make sure victims receive tailored and consistent support.
As commissioners of local victim support services, PCCs are already commissioning a wide range of specialist services to support women and girls who have been victims of domestic abuse, rape and sexual violence. We work closely with local victims charities to ensure these essential services are in place and delivering across our communities. But we want to do even more. Sustainable funding would help us work with local victim support organisations to plan for the long term.
All chief constables should immediately review and ensure that there are consistently high standards in their forces’ responses to violence against women and girls and should be supported in doing so by national standards and data.
As part of my ongoing scrutiny of the force I will be following up with my Chief Constable on ensuring that this review takes priority, and where there are gaps and/or the need for further upskilling, that this is expedited
Immediate review of use of outcomes 15 and 16 in violence against women and girls offences.
As above, as part of my ongoing scrutiny of the force I will be working alongside my Chief Constable to ensure that this review, while not an immediate directive to forces but to National delivery leads, regardless this should and will be addressed at a local level to identify areas for change and development.