Liverpool City Region leaders have today marked International Women’s Day by detailing their progress towards a comprehensive action plan for tackling Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG).
Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram and Deputy Police Commissioner, Cllr Emily Spurrell, are working to develop a long-term strategy aimed at ending VAWG across the city region.
Since announcing plans to develop the strategy at a summit convened by the Metro Mayor in 2017, they have been working with community safety partners, community and voluntary groups and key stakeholders to better understand the experiences of victims and develop a coherent action plan for each form of violence and abuse.
Over the last year, a host of activities, services and innovative initiatives have already been announced which focus on safeguarding communities, including:
• The launch of a Merseyside-wide Sexual Violence review launched by the Deputy Police Commissioner to uncover the true picture of sexual violence in the region. The inquiry, which has been jointly commissioned by NHS England and will be carried out by Liverpool John Moores University’s Public Health Institute will examine the extent and nature of sexual violence in the region and map the services available to support victims. As part of the project survivors are also being asked to share their views of their experiences of support in order to help others. Anyone affected can take part anonymously here https://ljmu.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/sexual-violence-survey
• The Strategic Domestic Violence Action Group (SDVAG) has been working with domestic abuse organisation Safelives to develop a robust action plan including to map training across the region, routes for victims to find support and promote best practice. This group are also monitoring the implementation of the single Merseyside Specialist Domestic Violence court.
• Announced plans to launch a Domestic Abuse Workplace Scheme with the aim of breaking the cycle of abuse with the help of employers. The scheme will see organisations commit to providing a safe working environment and policies in order to protect staff and increase productivity. The initiative will see the creation of a network of ‘Workplace Champions’ who will be trained to spot the signs of domestic abuse and trained to help colleagues and signpost them to appropriate services.
• The Red Umbrella project, which is being run in conjunction with national charity Changing Lives, with the aim of better protect and support street and online sex works, has seen the number of crimes reported to the police almost treble. The project has also seen the first dedicated Police Sex Worker Liaison officer appointed.
• The production of a strategy by the Harmful Practices Group which focuses on tackling crimes including forced marriage, female genital mutilation and so-called ‘honour-based’ abuse. Merseyside-based charity Savera UK have also been commissioned by Merseyside’s Police Commissioner to offer a dedicated support service for all victims in the region as part of her Victim Care Merseyside service.
• Develop an action plan focusing on raising awareness of modern slavery. Funding has been secured by the Commissioner’s office to host two workshops, focusing on employers and community safety partners. To mark Anti-Slavery Day, the Deputy Police Commissioner also joined with all local authorities to sign the Co-op Charter Mark committing councils to review their partnerships and put in checks for modern slavery in their own supply chain.
• Introduced a women-only review court which recognises the significant adversities many women face before coming into contact with the criminal justice system – including domestic abuse and sexual violence. This court will sit monthly and review the cases of female offenders sentenced to community orders or suspended sentences to review their progress and identify any wider issues to prevent them from escalating.
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “As a society we need to do all that we can to end the scourge of violence against women, which is why we have pledged to eradicate it. We have made great progress over the last year with initiatives that are really benefitting women and girls in our city region but we cannot be complacent. If we are to end the violence we must continue to work with all of our partners to stop it once and for all.”
Deputy PCC, Cllr Emily Spurrell, said: “No woman or girl chooses to be a victim of crime or subjected to violence. As a region, we must be committed to ensuring those who do suffer at the hands of others get the very best possible care and support and ultimately focus on putting a stop to VAWG for good.
“Over the last year, a huge amount of work has been done to develop this strategy and introduce a number of schemes which are already starting to make a difference in the lives of women across the city region. We still have lots to do to ensure all forms of VAWG are addressed, and, as we mark International Women’s Day, I am proud to reaffirm my pledge to ending VAWG and continuing in this vital work towards creating a region-wide strategy aimed at making this a reality.”