Portsmouth charity welcomes new Hampshire task force set up to tackle 'epidemic' of violence against women and girls

A CITY charity has welcomed a new group set to tackle an ‘epidemic’ of violence against women and girls.

Friday, 17th September 2021, 12:29 pm
Updated Friday, 17th September 2021, 12:40 pm

Aurora New Dawn said it was ‘looking forward’ to working with the newly-established Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) task group.

Set up by Donna Jones, the police and crime commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, the task force will work with Hampshire Constabulary and partners across the criminal justice system and local authorities to improve the response and support given to victims as well as working on prevention, and targeting and disrupting perpetrators.

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Crime commissioner for Hampshire Donna Jones (left) during a walkabout with Hampshire police chief constable Olivia Pinkney. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

It comes as Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) called for ‘fundamental cross-system change’ nationally in a report compiled following the murder of Sarah Everard in London earlier this year.

Zoe Jackson, director of policy at Aurora New Dawn, said: ‘HMIC have been clear in their most recent report that fundamental, systemic change is needed if we are to tackle the epidemic of violence against women and girls effectively.

‘Responses to this issue must be multi-faceted and include prevention work, specialist support for victims, and activity that seeks to identify, track and disrupt offenders as routine. For this reason we very much welcome the introduction of the VAWG task group.’

Aurora supports women and girls experiencing domestic abuse, sexual violence and stalking.

The task group will focus on crimes that disproportionally affect women and girls including rape, sexual offences, stalking, domestic abuse, ‘honour-based abuse’ such as female genital mutilation, revenge porn and upskirting.

Ms Jones said: ‘Violence against women and girls has been an issue in this country for generations, but recent high profile cases have brought this to the forefront of the government’s priorities. Women and girls deserve to have trust and confidence in policing and the wider criminal justice system that is there to support and protect them.

‘It is my ambition that the VAWG task group will have the most robust approach across the country to tackling and preventing crimes of violence against women and girls and as the national lead for victims I will be recommending all police and crime commissioners take the same approach.’

Initial priorities for the VAWG group will include assessing all relevant agencies to understand the current response to VAWG and producing action plans where there are gaps, accessing national government Safer Streets funding and the development of a longer-term strategy with statutory partners to include health and local authorities.

The national report found three-quarters of domestic abuse cases are closed early without the suspect being charged.

And in the year ending March 2020 there were an estimated 1.6 million female victims of domestic abuse, 618,000 female victims of sexual assault and 892,000 female victims of stalking in England and Wales.

Hampshire deputy chief constable Ben Snuggs said: ‘The police have a very important role to play in this, but we are not able to do this alone.’

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