Putting the focus on Violence against Women and Girls

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Following the tragic murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa the issue of violence against women and girls (VAWG) has resonated across the country and people have been quite rightly shocked and affected by the murders of two women who had everything to live for.

As a society we all need to take a strong stance against attacks on women and girls, who should be empowered to live their lives without fear of sexual objectification, harassment, or physical and mental abuse.

This week Wayne Couzens will be sentenced for the murder of Sarah Everard and our thoughts are with her family and also with Sabina’s family. We must also remember the women and girls that we have lost locally.

Alongside our partners, Merseyside Police and the Police Commissioner are committed to making the streets, homes and environments across Merseyside safer for women and girls so they can enjoy their lives to the full without fear.

And for those women and girls who are subjected to violence, sexual or emotional abuse we are determined to ensure that they are given the right care, support and understanding from the moment they call us through the investigation and the work of the Criminal Justice System.

Merseyside Police and the Police Commissioner, Emily Spurrell, work closely with the  local authorities; health services; the Crown Prosecution Service; Liverpool Domestic Abuse Service (LDAS), Rape and Sexual Abuse support (RASA) and Independent Domestic Violence Advisers (IDVA) in relation to violence against women and girls, which includes domestic abuse, sexual violence, stalking and harassment.

This work brings a real focus to what we are doing, and helps us to identify and target perpetrators and ensure that we can offer the right support. It also helps us to identify areas where there is room for improvement and learning, so that together we can ensure we give confidence to the public and deliver an effective service for women, girls and men who are survivors of serious or sexual violence.

Chief Constable Serena Kennedy said: “Violence and Intimidation Against Women and Girls is one of my key priorities and the force will continue to work with our communities and partners to reduce abuse against women and girls – this type of behaviour is simply not acceptable and must not be tolerated.

“This is a societal issue, which will not be resolved by policing alone and we need to work together to drive behavioural change to empower women and girls to live their lives without fear of abuse.

“We need a robust public health approach in relation to Violence and Intimidation Against Women and Girls and will be working closely with the five local authorities; the health service; CPS; Probation; the courts and third sector organisations (who provide invaluable support to survivors) on a regional strategy that which can help us to keep our communities safer.

“My officers will continue to target perpetrators of this abhorrent abuse and we will support and work with women and girls who are subjected to stalking or harassment, violence, domestic abuse, or any other crimes based on their gender, so we can identify offenders and put them before the courts.

“If someone experiences violence or abuse they should be confident to report it to us. We are here to help. We will always take these reports seriously, we will investigate, and when a crime has been committed we will do all we can to help victims get justice.”

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “The tragic deaths of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa highlight that we still have a long way to go if we are to eradicate crimes of violence against women and girls (VAWG).

“I am committed to working with partners across Merseyside to tackle this critical issue and make a difference for women across our region. I am already looking to recruit a VAWG lead who will help with the creation of a region-wide strategy and spearhead a taskforce. When women are subjected to these traumatic crimes, it is only right that they get the best possible support. That’s why I am currently reviewing the way support services are funded locally to make sure we are getting it right for them, every time.

“There is much to do, but as we unite to remember Sarah and Sabina, our determination to make society safer for all women and girls is even stronger.”

Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson said: “Ending violence against women and girls is a priority for me. There needs to be confidence in the system so that women will report what’s happening to them.

“We are striving to end these appalling crimes and have already been running a campaign with our partners to educate people about sexual violence in the night time economy.

“Together we have to raise awareness and in order to reduce the number of assaults - making our streets safe for everyone.

“It’s a sad reflection on our society that we have to do this. Everyone has the right to feel safe in our city.”

Caroline Grant, Director of Policy and Development, Liverpool Domestic Abuse Service (LDAS) said:  “Liverpool Domestic Abuse Service ( LDAS) offers trauma informed support, which includes counselling, group support, 1-1 work and local and national institutional advocacy for women and girls who are, or have experienced any form of domestic abuse. 

“Violence against women and girls isn’t a new concept and holds international recognition that violence against women is a form of gender-based violence that is committed against women because they are women.  It is only when we accept this reality and what keeps this alive that we can effectively challenge this. 

“LDAS has worked closely with Merseyside Police and our partners for some time to improve all responses to women and girls impacted by abuse and violence which is a welcome and dedicated partnership. Eradicating VAWG is not simply a Criminal Justice System matter, it is rooting out the culture that normalises in society and institutionally, even in the face of policy.

“LDAS are committed to supporting our partners to widen their understanding of VAWG and embrace meaningful change, so our streets, homes and environments are a safer for women girls and that crucial support can be accessed as and when needed.”

Lorraine Wood, Operations Manager Rape and Sexual Abuse (RASA) support said: “RASA provide counselling and ISVA support to those who experience rape and sexual abuse.  We recognise that men and boys are also impacted by rape and abuse and our services are inclusive to all. However, rape and sexual abuse are gendered crimes and the majority of victims are women and girls.  

Sexual Violence is both an expression of and a means of discrimination against women and gender inequality. Sexual Violence is never the victims fault and we will support victims and our partners in holding perpetrators accountable. We are working together with our partners to create safer streets for women and girls in Merseyside.”

If you've been affected by crime, please visit Victim Care Merseyside for information and advice and a directory of services that can offer you support:

Victim Care Merseyside