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New cross-system approach needed to end epidemic of violence against women and girls

HMICFRS’s report published on 17 September 2021 regarding the effectiveness of police engagement with women and girls

Executive summary 

In the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder in March 2021, the Home Secretary commissioned HMICFRS to undertake a review of the policing response to violence against women and girls (‘VAWG’).  HMICFRS concluded that, whilst the police have made vast improvements over the last decade, there remains more work to be done and, it is not an issue that the police can tackle alone.

Background

HMICFRS were tasked by the Home Secretary to inspect the “police handling of female victims and engagement with women and girls” to better protect them. In July 2021, HMICFRS published an interim report that recommended:

  1. There should be an immediate and unequivocal commitment that the response to VAWG offences is an absolute priority for the Government, policing, the criminal justice system and public sector partnerships.
  2. The relentless pursuit and disruption of adult perpetrators should be a national priority for the police, and their capability should be enhanced.
  3. Structures and funding should be put in place to make sure victims receive tailored and consistent support.

The final report added the following two recommendations:

  1. All chief constables should immediately review and ensure that there are consistently high standards in their forces’ responses to violence against women and girls.
  2. There should be an immediate review of use of VAWG offences being closed due to evidential difficulties or because the victim does not support further action.

These recommendations will feed into the Government’s strategy on tackling violence against women and girls.

Comment

Crimes of violence against women and girls cover a wide range of extremely serious offences and have a significant impact on the victim and those around them. As HMICFRS found, these crimes “are still all too often hidden and go unreported to the police.” There are some instances when a woman or girl will not know that they have been the victim of a crime.

As the HMICFRS have said before, making sure women and girls are properly protected isn’t a matter for the police alone. However, by increasing the use of the tools available, it will raise awareness of the positive work that is being done by the police and can be done to protect women and girls from violence. It is hoped that this will encourage more women and girls to come forward and report behaviour, feeling confident that something will be done about it.

Weightmans regularly assist a number of police forces with applications for orders, including Stalking Protection Orders.  

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