Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) has been bought into sharp focus in recent times following several tragic and high profile cases.
In November 2022, Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Barber, announced a Thames Valley-wide strategy aimed at improving the safety of women and girls in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Milton Keynes.
VAWG is estimated to affect at least one in three women and girls at some point in their lifetime and can have a devastating impact on victims, their families, and wider communities.
The risks that women can face take many different forms, from domestic abuse to public place harassment, stalking to sexual violence. To truly improve the safety of women and girls it is crucial that organisations work together to put in place a variety of responses to tackle VAWG. This includes prevention work, perpetrator programmes and victim support.
The Police and Crime Commissioner’s VWAG strategy highlights 8 key objectives:
- Delivering a system wide approach to improve the safety of women and girls by working effectively with partners at a local and national level.
- Commissioning quality victims’ services to ensure victims get the support they need.
- Ensuring the voices of women and girls are heard and incorporated into decision making across criminal justice agencies and partners.
- Commissioning effective interventions such as diversionary and rehabilitative programmes for perpetrators to create lasting behavioural change and/or disrupt abusive behaviour.
- Building public confidence in policing, supporting women and girls to feel able to report VAWG, and putting women, girls and victims at the centre of decision-making.
- Creating clear pathways of support to decrease barriers to access and allow services to work together to offer the most appropriate range of support without overcomplicating the process for the victim i.e. no wrong front door.
- Hold police and criminal justice agencies to account for delivering an effective, supportive and timely criminal justice service for victims and offenders.
- Preventing VAWG from happening in the first place by developing a public health prevention approach to address the issues that impact on the safety of women and girls and underpin VAWG.
Since launching the strategy, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has secured £2.8 million of funding from the Home Office’s ‘Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Interventions Fund’ for two projects aimed at reducing domestic abuse and stalking, launched a new specialist stalking service to support victims of stalking, funded better street lighting and CCTV to make streets safer and continued promoting the ‘Do the Right Thing’ campaign which encourages men to call out abusive behaviour and sexual harassment.
Victims First provides free emotional and practical support for victims of all crime including victims of VAWG.
Victims can also access a full directory of VAWG support organisations available within the Thames Valley on the Victims First website