PCC publishes his report into Violence Against Women and Girls in Kent
Matthew Scott recommends stronger accountability for the criminal justice system and a new prevention programme in schools.
Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Scott, has released a wide-ranging report into Violence Against Women and Girls in Kent.
It recommends publishing a twice yearly audit of the progress made by all criminal justice agencies in supporting victims and holding perpetrators to account. There will be an independent victims’ satisfaction survey embedded into the victim support provision, which is funded by the PCC. This will monitor how victims feel their case has been handled and enable the criminal justice system to improve.
The PCC has also pledged to raise awareness of the rights of victims across Kent and promote how they can exercise these rights.
Many changes have already been adopted by Kent Police, like the instigation of officer verification checks and the launch of a domestic abuse improvement plan. The Force has also launched a Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy, which includes a wide variety of measures like more officer training and the instigation of a Domestic Abuse hub, where victims can seek specialist support 7 days a week.
The PCC has pledged to scrutinize all this work rigorously and regularly.
Since autumn 2020, the PCC’s office has obtained over £1,500 000 to make the streets of Kent and Medway Safer, working with partner agencies to improve the environment and make spaces feel safer for women and girls.* Just yesterday the office heard it had secured an additional £1, 400 000 to expand this work across more areas of the county.
During the course of the Inquiry, Matthew Scott met with victims at a specially convened Victims’ Panel. They were frank about the level of service they felt they’d received from both the police and other criminal justice agencies. Here are some quotes from the women who have attended the Victims’ Panel. We are protecting their identities.
“The process takes so long, you forget the details. You’re worried that if you don’t say exactly the same as you did the first time, no-one will believe you.”
“It feels like the system is written in the criminals favour.”
“I stopped at a pedestrian crossing one day and thought, there’s a bus coming, I could end it all now. It wasn’t even what he did, it was the system. You feel like you’re dealing with a society which doesn’t want to help you or seek justice for you.”
“Significant actions have been taken to make women and girls safer, but I’ve heard loud and clear that more is required. Policing has responded well to improve outcomes and confidence but the whole system needs to work together to hold perpetrators to account.
“So these measures I am announcing today will provide transparency around criminal justice outcomes, enabling all agencies to be held to account better with the voice of victims at its heart.”
It also became apparent that most women and girls felt there needed to be more early intervention work, undertaken in schools, to educate young people about appropriate behaviour. The commissioner will launch a new prevention programme for schools to do just that.
“I’m pleased to be announcing a new schools prevention programme which will focus on healthy behaviours, online harms and violence. And over time this can evolve to address new and emerging problems. This was one of the commonly requested changes in my survey and I look forward to commissioning this soon.”
Finally, Matthew Scott commissioned detailed data analysis to identify where the so-called “hot spots” are for cases of violence against women and girls and at what time of day.** This has helped the police dedicate resources more efficiently. Matthew Scott has also commissioned an analysis of perpetrators, to improve understanding of how best to intervene and how best to direct services with a view to changing an offenders’ behaviour.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
*Safer Streets projects have included providing personal alarms and safety equipment; “Safe Space” venues people can go to should they feel vulnerable; the launch of a Streetwise app in Ashford to point women to the brightest, busiest routes ; improved lighting and CCTV.
The PCC’s Office has also secured additional funding for domestic abuse and sexual violence counselling and support services. We will receive £664,540 for the next three years (2022-2025) and top of that an extra £186,123 in 2022-2023 and £271,564 for 2023-2024 for 6 new support service posts.
** The data looked at reported cases, going back ten years.
It found that there were 49,055 male offenders (over the age of 18) and 56,358 different victims of violence against women and girls (VAWG) related crimes, between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2022.
It found Stalking was the fastest growing VAWG crime since January 2020.
It found that in 64% of Rape cases, victims did not support a prosecution, 30% ended up unresolved because of “insufficient evidence”, meaning in only 4.3% of cases an offender was charged or summonsed.
It found the Night-Time Economy (Friday night to early Sunday morning) was not the most common time for VAWG offences to occur. It was the middle of the day in the middle of the week, with most VAWG cases occurring within the home, not on the street.
Chatham and Thanet had the highest number of victims.
High deprivation coupled with a high concentration of pubs resulted in higher levels of VAWG crime in the locality.