11 July 2021
The police need the help of other agencies if they are to effectively tackle the epidemic of offending against women and girls, an interim report from the police inspectorate has concluded.
And Tony Wetton, chair of Derbyshire Police Federation, has welcomed the report, saying that it is time people stopped expecting the police to work in isolation and also take the blame when things go wrong.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has published an interim report as part of an inspection into how effectively the police engage with women and girls. A full report will be issued later this year.
Inspectors drew attention to the fact that an estimated 1.6 million women in England and Wales having experienced domestic abuse in the 12 months to March 2020.
“This figure alone is shocking,” says Tony, “But there are millions of other crimes where women and girls are the victim and we have to act on this. The inspectors have praised the police for the vast improvements they have made but no one can rest on their laurels and I am pleased there was an acknowledgement that other agencies, such as the CPS, the health service and those in education, have a part to play.
“If we all work together on this, and we get the right investment from the Government, then we can make a real difference.”
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:
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.”
John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation, said police officers should not face anger from victims for the failings of other agencies and called on other sectors to step up and play their part.
He explained: “This isn’t something that can be solved overnight, or by just recruiting more officers. It’s a complex issue that demands time, attention, and money.”
The interim HMICFRS report has been released now to help inform the Government’s violence against women and girls strategy,. The final report will be published in September.