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Radical action needed to tackle crime epidemic against women and girls – HMICFRS report

Responding to the report's findings, Dame Vera Baird praises the "ambition" and calls for VAWG to be a strategic policing issue and subject to the local duty in PCSC Bill.

An interim report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has found that ‘radical’ cross-sector reform is needed to protect women and girls from violent offences.

HMICFRS said there is an ‘epidemic’ of offending against women and girls and a whole-system approach is needed to tackle it, involving the police and 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 (VAWG) strategy, which is expected to be published soon. The final HMICFRS report is to be published in September.

In its interim report, the inspectorate recommends that:

  • 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.

Responding to the report’s findings, Dame Vera Baird QC, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, said:

“As this interim report from HMICFRS makes powerfully clear, we need to see radical and urgent action from government, police and society if we are to truly tackle the epidemic of offending against women and girls. We cannot simply police our way out of this crisis. This is a broader societal problem that requires a whole-system approach: police and justice partners and health and social care and education. Significant, system-wide reforms are needed.

“The level of ambition shown in these HMICFRS recommendations is what we need to see. Tackling violence against women and girls must be a top priority in both legislation and national and local government strategies. VAWG must become a strategic policing issue and it should also become subject to the local duty to work together against serious violence introduced in the Policing, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill. The government’s strategy should address prevention by looking at local grass-roots initiatives, making sure compulsory sex and relationships education is rolled out in schools and supporting the whole-school approach. It is also absolutely vital that government commits to long-term sustainable funding for specialist VAWG services, that meet the needs of all women and girls.”