RDA VAWG FI
Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

PCCs tackle violence against women and girls

Revolving Doors Agency spotlights emerging good practice on tackling Violence Against Women and Girls commissioned by Police and Crime Commissioners.

Spotlight on VAWG

The blog is a little quick off the mark in celebrating tomorrow’s International Women’s Day by featuring a recent (28 February 2018) report by the Revolving Doors Agency.

The report, Spotlight on Violence Against Women and Girls,  is written by Emma Casey and features emerging good practice on tackling VAWG commissioned by Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) . 

Background

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is an umbrella term that encompasses a wide range of gender- based crimes, which can be physical, psychological or sexual in nature. Since, 2010, the UK government has adopted the definition set out by United Nations, which describes VAWG as:

any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life

Although overall crime rates have been steadily decreasing over the past two decades, there have been significant rises in the number of offences of domestic abuse and sexual offences. This is, in part, due to increased reporting as well as more proactive policing and improvements in police recording of such offences.

The role of PCCs

At the local level, the Home Office VAWG Strategy demands that elected representatives across the country demonstrate the effective leadership, political will and accountability to bring about real change. This is a space in which PCCs now firmly sit as they cut across a range of local public services with an ever-widening remit. PCCs, under their responsibilities for local policing and crime prevention strategies, are expected to improve the local response for victims and survivors of VAWG, who often require support from multiple services. PCCs can achieve this by supporting public and voluntary sector provision and creating multi-agency partnerships.

In 2016, the Home Office created a VAWG Transformation Fund, which offered £15 million for local services to tackle VAWG across the country for a period of 3 years. The purpose of the VAWG Transformation Fund is to aid, promote and embed best local practice across the country, alongside encouraging better collaboration between PCCs, local authorities and health commissioners. Amongst the successful applicants for the Home Office VAWG Transformation Fund have been 14 PCCs, each of which is pioneering innovative large-scale projects to tackle VAWG in their force areas.

However, the Revolving Doors Agency’s recent review of police and crime plans for multiple and complex needs found that only 35% PCC police and crime plans had established VAWG/ domestic abuse as a priority. 

Examples of good practice

The report highlights seven, very varied, examples of emerging best practice including

  1. The Drive Project which aims to tackle domestic abuse perpetrator behaviour in addition to providing intensive support to their victims.
  2.  A diversionary project aimed at supporting victims of violence who are at risk of entering the criminal justice system.
  3.  A Female Genital Mutilation Project which aims to raise general awareness of FGM, as well as develop appropriate and sustainable responses to the practice.
  4. A Minority Ethnic Forum designed to empower ethnic minority communities and challenge myths, stereotypes and victim-blaming .

Conclusion

This RDA spotlight briefing brings together examples of PCCs demonstrating the necessary leadership and political will to bring about real change. Using their powers to convene a range of public services and third sector organisations, they are improving service responses for women and girls, who are at risk of, or are experiencing, VAWG offences. Using their local knowledge, they are working with community and voluntary sector organisations to identify needs, working across disciplines and getting the backing of people in communities to establish a shared commitment to prevent and tackle VAWG.
 
Let’s hope this emerging best practice is taken up by the 65% of Police and Crime Commissioners who didn’t make VAWG a priority in their Police and Crime Plans. 

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