APCC Joint Victims' Leads Donna Jones and Sophie Linden comment on the APCC Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Summit
The successful VAWG Summit gave us all an important opportunity to affirm our commitment to tackling violence against women and girls and protecting our most vulnerable.
The Summit provided an opportunity to hear about the innovative and collaborative work that Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are engaged in with local and national partners in order to address the issue, lead from the front and drive positive change.
Keynote speakers included the Minister for Safeguarding, Rachel Maclean MP who reminded us of some sobering statistics that one in five women will be a victim of sexual assault. The Minister praised PCCs for their commitment to tackling VAWG and the shared ambition from the Government to police forces and PCCs to tackle all aspects of VAWG from preventing it, to supporting victims and prosecuting offenders. We heard from Zoe Billingham, Chair of the Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and former Inspector for HMICFRS. Zoe reiterated that VAWG is an epidemic, that needs societal change and that PCCs had a role in holding the police to account.
The Victims' Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, was part of an excellent panel session, entitled The PCC's Role in a Victims Focussed Approach'. Panel members included Nicole Jacobs (Domestic Abuse Commissioner) and Emily Hunt (Independent advisor on the Government's End-to-End Rape Review), who were invited to consider what PCCs should be doing to ensure a victim-focused approach to VAWG and how they might better approach perpetrator management to ensure lasting behavioural change. The Victims' Commissioner encouraged PCCs to appoint a Victim's Champion to help address and tackle VAWG. The Domestic Abuse Commissioner said that PCCs have an influential role in convening services for victims and survivors of violence. We were grateful to be joined by Emily, who reminded us of the importance of keeping victims voice central to our thinking and work.
The second half of the Summit discussed and analysed the importance of a public health approach to VAWG. It included a presentation from Maggie Blythe, NPCC Lead for VAWG, and the Welsh public health approach from Joanne Hopkins, Programme Director, Childhood Experiences, Criminal Justice and Violence Prevention, Public Health Wales. PCCs have long advocated a whole-system approach and as local leaders we have a key role to play in co-ordinating activity and making this happen.
The Summit concluded with examples from three PCCs on what they are already successfully doing to tackle VAWG in their communities. We know the importance of sharing best practice and learning from each other.
PCCs have a critical role in tackling serious violence and we are engaged with the Government, national and local partners and are a collective and powerful voice in addressing VAWG and trying to eradicate it from society. We will be publishing a VAWG action plan and this Summit fed into that work.
NB: Donna Jones is the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire.
Sophie Linden is Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime in London.
HMICFRS = Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services.