Merseyside Police has today welcomed Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) review of the policing response to Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG), following an inspection of all forces across the country.
The review, published today, follows a root and branch examination of the policing response to VAWG, including prevention work in schools and the management of the most dangerous offenders.
The report recognises that there have been vast improvements in the response to VAWG over the last decade, including better identification of repeat victims and improved safeguarding measures.
But it also found several areas where the police need to improve, including grave concerns about the number of VAWG cases closed without charge, and major gaps in the data recorded on VAWG offences.
The recommendations include:
- There should be a radical refocus and shift in the priority given to VAWG offences by the police and all partners, including wrap-around, tailored support for victims
- Chief Constables should review and ensure there are consistently high standards in the response to VAWG, including dealing with breaches of non-molestation orders, using Clare’s Law to protect potential domestic abuse victims, and identifying and managing the most dangerous VAWG perpetrators
- There should be a national policing strategy to coordinate the response to VAWG.
The review also acknowledges that the police cannot tackle VAWG in isolation and that this something that needs to be done across partner agencies and as a result it is asking the Government to create a new statutory duty for all partner agencies to work together to protect women and girls, in line with existing practice for child protection.
Violence against women and girls in any form in not acceptable and Merseyside Police have already set up a VAWG board to ensure the response to crimes of this nature is prioritised and identifies other policing activity to address the safety of women and girls.
Assistant Chief Constable Ngaire Waine, said: “We have worked tirelessly over the last 12 months, alongside our partners including local authorities, support agencies and the third sector, to protect women and girls who are faced with violence and sexual abuse. Together we have introduced a number of initiatives aimed at preventing sexual violence and raising awareness across Merseyside including:
- Moving more officers into specialist domestic abuse teams to investigate crimes and support survivors
- Our proactive policing response, Operation Empower, which is aimed at preventing sexual violence within the city centre and town centres where officers are deployed into hotspot night-time economy (NTE) locations and are briefed to look for predatory type behaviour towards women and girls
- Reviewing how we are investigating rape and the support services available to support victims of sexual assault
She added: “Operationally, the force continues to use domestic violence prevention notices (DVPNs) and the relevant disclosures as part of the ‘right to know’ and ‘right to ask’ in a bid to prevent domestic violence and domestic abuse.
“We know the strength of working together in partnership when it comes to tackling VAWG and supporting vulnerable people. We already meet on a regular basis with our strategic partners and review demand for services to ensure that victims are supported and able to access vital services.
“As a society we need to continue to take a strong stance against attacks on women and girls who should be empowered to live their lives without fear of sexual objectification, harassment, or physical and mental abuse. Together with our partners, Merseyside Police is actively addressing the fears being raised about violence against women, with the ultimate aim of making our streets safer for women and girls.