Merseyside Police has welcomed the Government’s publication of the Violence against Women and Girls strategy this week.
Officers and staff have worked relentlessly over the last 12 months to protect vulnerable people particularly women and girls who are faced with violence and sexual abuse.
Assistant Chief Constable Ngaire Waine, said: “We and our partners completely understand that recent events have brought the issue of serious violence against women and girls to the fore and we want to ensure women feel safe.
“We have developed an approach working with our partners to look at the different aspects of violence against women and girls and we have brought those meetings together across one day to bring a real focus to the work we are doing; to examine the impact the ongoing work is having; and to identify where there is room for improvement and learning so together we can ensure we give confidence to the public and deliver an effective service for women, girls and men who are survivors of serious or sexual violence.
“Together with our partners we have also introduced a number of initiatives aimed at preventing sexual violence across Merseyside.
“With the night time economy in the city centre and across Merseyside returning to normal we want to ensure women can enjoy a night out safely and without fear.
“Our proactive policing response, Operation Empower, is aimed at preventing sexual violence within the city centre and town centres across Merseyside who have a night time economy.
“This initiative has been running since the hospitality industry reopened in April. Both plain clothed and uniformed officers are working in the city centre and town centres of Merseyside are briefed to look for predatory type behaviour towards women and girls, which includes; loitering without good reason and offering unwanted attention. Officers will talk to anyone who they believe is displaying this type of behaviour, ensuring that any offences are dealt with and that any safeguarding needs of potential victims are met.
“Operation Empower supports the preventative work already being carried out by the night time economy working group, which includes ‘bystander’ training, which has been given to bars across Liverpool city centre. We also want the public’s continued help and support in highlighting unacceptable behaviour towards women.
“Merseyside Police also has the Unity Team, a specialist rape unit committed to investigating and supporting victims through the whole investigative process so that we can maximise the best possible chance of conviction while at the same time ensuring that victims receive the highest level of help, advice and support.
“The team consists of specially trained officers, who work closely with the Crown Prosecution Service and in partnership with Independent Sexual Violence advisors (ISVAs), Sexual Assault Referral Centre Crisis Workers (SARCs) and health professionals.
“In addition each area across the force has a Protecting Vulnerable Persons Unit comprised of detectives with specialist training to deal with rape and sexual offences within a familial setting.
“We are working hard to ensure constables in our emergency response team have an enhanced level of training in dealing with initial reports of sexual offences.
“We have increased the number of dedicated domestic abuse investigators in recent months in response to an increase in crimes reported during the financial year, which has included lockdown. These staff work closely with statutory and charitable organisations to provide protection and safety for victims and their families and bring offenders of these abhorrent crimes to justice
“As a society we need to continue to take a strong stance against attacks on women and women should be empowered to live their lives without fear of sexual objectification, harassment, or physical and mental abuse. Together with our partners, we are actively addressing the fears being raised about violence against women, and we are trying to address them, with the ultimate aim of making our streets safer for women and girls.”