Radical action needed to tackle crime epidemic against women and girls
Radical cross-sector reform to protect women and girls from violent offences is needed immediately, an interim report has found.
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Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) said the police have made vast improvements over the last decade in how they respond to these crimes – but while this progress should continue, fundamental system-wide change is needed, and the police cannot achieve this alone.
HMICFRS said there is an epidemic of offending against women and girls – for example, an estimated 1.6 million women in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse in the 12 months to March 2020 – and a whole-system approach is needed to tackle it, involving not only the police but also other partners such as the Crown Prosecution Service, health, social care and education.
The inspectorate’s findings are from its interim report, released now to help inform the Government’s violence against women and girls strategy, with its final report to be published in September.
HMICFRS reviewed evidence from previous inspections, consulted with experts from policing, government and victim support organisations, and analysed the progress made by the police.
After reviewing the evidence, the inspectorate has recommended that transformation of the whole system is needed, including:
- the Government, police, criminal justice system and public sector should immediately and unequivocally commit to prioritising the response to violence against women and girls, supported by sufficient funding and mandated responsibilities;
- the police should make the relentless pursuit and disruption of perpetrators a national priority, and their capability and capacity to do this should be enhanced; and
- funding and structures should be put in place to ensure victims receive tailored and consistent support.
Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham said:
“We are living during a national epidemic of violence against women and girls. The prevalence and range of offending and harm is stark and shocking. We are clear that the police have made great progress over the last decade against a backdrop of greater demand, and we want forces to maintain this momentum and build on these improvements. But there is still evidence of inconsistent support for victims and low prosecution rates.
“Offending against women and girls is deep-rooted and pervasive in our society. Urgent action is needed to uproot and address this and police cannot solve this alone. There must be a seamless approach to preventing and tackling violence against women and girls across the whole system, including education, local authorities, health, social care and those from across the criminal justice system – with all agencies working together.
“A radical and immediate change in approach is needed, supported by sustained funding and mandated responsibilities, potentially through a new statutory framework. We need to end violence against women and girls by preventing it, supporting victims, and bringing perpetrators to justice with the full force of police powers and the law.
“I am grateful to the Home Secretary for commissioning this inspection, and we will publish our final report in September.”
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- For further information, the HMICFRS Press Office can be contacted from 9:00am – 5:00pm Monday to Friday at HMICPressOffice@hmicfrs.gov.uk or on 07836 217729.