Liverpool City Region leaders have today marked International Women’s Day by pledging their shared commitment to combatting Violence against Women and Girls in a new mission statement.
Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Cllr Emily Spurrell, Merseyside Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Serena Kennedy and women’s equality campaigner, Tabitha Morton have joined with a host of agencies and partners across the city region to highlight the priority they are placing on preventing VAWG across the city region.
The release of the ambitious vision is part of the Liverpool City Region’s work to develop a wider initiative to end violence against women and girls. It follows on from a summit convened by the Metro Mayor in October 2017 at which partners gathered to start the process of developing a joint multi-agency approach to tackling the scourge of VAWG.
Leaders are now working together with frontline community and voluntary groups, community safety partners and key stakeholders on a wide-ranging Liverpool City Region action plan to end violence against women and girls. The plan aims to bring all partners together in one comprehensive and coordinated effort, which ensures all victims benefit from the same level of protection against violence.
Today’s announcement also signals the next stage of the long-term strategy which will see an in-depth consultation process undertaken involving a host of agencies and networks across the city region. It will involve listening to the experiences of victims and survivors to understand their priorities and inform a strong new collaborative approach to end gendered violence.
Since the summit, a host of activities, services and innovative initiatives have already been announced which focus on safeguarding communities, including:
- Nearly £3m of support services for victims of crime have been confirmed by the Deputy PCC, Cllr Emily Spurrell through the Victim Care Merseyside. Among the key services which will be run over the next three years are a new service to support victims of harmful practices, including forced marriage, so-called honour-based violence and FGM, delivered by Savera UK, a dedicated aftercare support service for survivors of rape and sexual assault and increased funding for victims and families affected by domestic violence.
- A new project to support sex workers has been launched by the Police Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, and Merseyside Police. The Red Umbrella project, which is being run in conjunction with national charity Changing Lives, aims to better protect and support street and online sex works, and increase intelligence and reporting to the police to ensure perpetrators of VAWG are pursued and prosecuted. The project has also seen the first dedicated Police Sex Worker Liaison officer appointed.
- Sefton Council and Access 27 Ltd are working together to deliver an early intervention performance-based learning and training programme for young people and professionals working with young people. Like Glue explores relationship abuse in its different forms and through both performances and workshops helps audience members identify and understand abuse and where to go for support.
- A recent pilot saw the police working with independent domestic violence advisors to visit survivors of domestic violence 24 hours after the initial visit from a police officer. This pilot saw an increase in those survivors willing to pursue a prosecution due to the fact they received support at a time when they could make a clear decision. We are pleased that this programme is now active in two of our local authority areas with a plan to extend across the region as part of our commitment to help survivors rebuild their lives.
During the next stage of the process the Combined Authority is focusing on using the consultation process to establish a better understanding of:
- The breadth of organisations and service areas that are involved in addressing violence against women and girls and how they can work better together;
- Service users’ experiences, and the information they receive;
- Funding and how services are commissioned;
- Education and prevention work; and
- Awareness raising and campaigns
We want to learn from the very best practice from our region, the UK, and internationally before apply it locally to achieve better outcomes for our communities going forward.
Speaking to mark the launch of this joint approach, Metro Mayor for the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, said:
“The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is committed to building a fair and inclusive city region where everyone, irrespective of their ability, age, economic circumstances, sexual orientation, race, faith or gender is given the opportunity to thrive.
“This can only be achieved if all of our residents are safe and feel safe. This is why a key priority for the Combined Authority is to highlight and tackle the issue of violence against women and girls across our city region. I look forward to working with key stakeholders to ensure that our strategy can make a meaningful change to women and girls across our region and put an end to the scourge of gendered violence.”
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.
“Through the Victim Care Merseyside service, the Police Commissioner and I have already pledged more money and enhanced services to support some of the most vulnerable women in our region. As we mark International Women’s Day, I am delighted to join the Metro Mayor and our partners in reaffirming our pledge to ending VAWG and announcing the next steps towards creating a region-wide strategy aimed at making this a reality.”
Tabitha Morton, women’s quality campaigner, added:
Our aim is to end violence against women and girls (VAWG) and this means addressing the root cause, not just reshaping the edges; recognising that the disproportionate amount of violence women face is due to structural inequalities, and that while this violence exists women are not free.
We have to fund specialist services that help women rebuild their lives, ensure women are supported through our judicial system and train police officers, health workers and social workers in how to identify and support those facing violence. We need to educate our young people, enabling them to break the cycle of violence and enjoy safe loving relationships.
During the last six months a huge amount of work has been done in the Liverpool City region to end VAWG—to share best practice and commit to our region being a gold standard in the country. We still have lots to do and I look forward to continuing the work with my colleagues in specialist services, criminal justice, local authorities, health, education and housing to make ending VAWG a reality.
Merseyside Police’s Assistant Chief Constable, Serena Kennedy, added:
“Nobody should be forced to live in fear and I want to reassure our communities that Merseyside Police is dedicated to tackling all forms of violence and abuse.
“We know that some women and girls feel trapped and frightened and feel they have to suffer in silence but I want to assure them that there are a lot of organisations – including ourselves – who will help them if they need it.
“We have specially trained officers who are focused on listening not only to those that are victims but those that know people who are victims. We want them to come forward in confidence so we can take action.
"Just last year we launched the innovative Project Red Umbrella which seeks to protect street sex workers from sexual violence and we will continue to work with our partners to tackle the issue of violence against women."
If you have been affected by crime, please visit Victim Care Merseyside for information and to access support.