Recognising those working tirelessly to protect women and girls
Deputy Chief Constable Maggie Blyth, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Violence Against Women and Girls, held a special event to recognise the work that police officers, staff and volunteers are doing to keep people safe.
This week I hosted the first national policing violence against women and girls’ recognition event where we recognised and rewarded individuals and teams across policing who have done outstanding work to tackle crime that impacts the lives of women and girls. There are thousands of police officers and staff working every minute of every day across policing to better protect women and girls and are relentless in their pursuit of the perpetrators of all VAWG crime.
The crimes that make up violence against women and girls are some of the most despicable acts, which ruin lives and devastate families – including rape, sexual assault, domestic abuse, stalking and controlling and coercive behaviour. Between October 2021 and March 2022, as we reported earlier this year in our first ever national strategic threat assessment, over 507,827 VAWG crimes were recorded, amounting to 16 per cent of all crime over that period. These figures are shocking and I know from the many victims who I speak to that the trauma and fear can last for a lifetime.
When we set out on this journey in October 2021, I made a commitment that every police force had to make VAWG a priority and that victims need to be front and centre in everything we do. As our reward and recognition event has shown, there are officers, staff and volunteers who have excelled in their quiet determination to fight this sort of crime and protect victims and survivors.
By way of a snapshot, the winners we recognised this week include:
Forces who have been tackling internal culture and conduct head on – like in Avon and Somerset where they used confronting language in their stations to demonstrate the impact that misogyny and sexism has on colleagues.
We heard from colleagues in the West Midlands and in Cleveland where they are working to protect some of the most vulnerable women in society from sexual abuse and exploitation.
Abbie, a victim of the most awful crimes, who is now supporting other young women who approach Lincolnshire Police for help, guiding them through the criminal justice system.
In Humberside, a PCSO is tackling perpetrators of sexual assault, and they have also supported the teaching of Scouts to model positive attitudes and behaviours towards women.
I was impressed to hear about Warwickshire Police and their innovative way to talk to students about sexual harassment, raising awareness among young mean of how their behaviour impacted women.
Our colleagues in British Transport Police have used insight from their passengers to help with conversations that could disrupt sexual harassment.
We recognised Nottinghamshire Police and their youth outreach team for the work they do to communicate to vulnerable children.
We also celebrated the achievements of two police officers – one from North Wales Police and one from Greater Manchester Police whose professionalism, tenacity and dedication in tackling these sorts of crimes has led to the identification of serious perpetrators and prevented them from committing more crime.
What every one of these individuals demonstrate is a commitment to their communities, serving the public and listening to victims to ensure that the service they provide at a local level is exemplary, and to change the outcome for women and girls.
We know that we have a long way to go but progress is being made. We are transforming the way we investigate rape and sexual offences, leading to charge rates and referrals to prosecutors increasing. Through this work, we are putting victims’ needs and delivering justice for them at the heart of our work. As we reported a few weeks ago, Operation Soteria is leading the way with a new national operating model for how policing responds to rape and sexual offences.
Our national VAWG framework provides the national strategy for policing, but it’s police forces who make the real difference. I am immensely proud of every police officer, staff member and volunteer who in their daily work are improving women and girls’ safety.
But we have much more to do.
In the coming months you will see:
a new joint plan with the CPS to improve performance of domestic abuse.
our second performance report.
an updated national strategic threat and risk assessment.
continued plans for transforming the way that policing supports victims of rape, building on the impressive work already underway through Operation Soteria.
with the College of Policing we are embarking on an ambitious new specialist training programme to ensure that officers are equipped with the specific skills needed to tackle some of the most complex crimes including rape and domestic abuse.
the launch of our VAWG code of practice which will detail what victims can expect in terms of service from policing.
us leaving no stones unturned in rooting out any police officer whose behaviour falls below our ethical standards.
We must make sure that any progress that we have made is built up across our 43 forces and improved so that women and girls’ futures are safer. Recognising achievement and impact are part of that progress.