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Over the past year, agencies at a local and national level have taken actions to address violence against women and girls. We have seen legislative reforms that deal directly with domestic abuse and other offences against women and girls. There have been advertising campaigns, funding announcements and action plans. It is important therefore to recognise that some of the recommendations that this inquiry would have made, have already begun and are starting to make a difference.
As a direct response to the launch of this inquiry, Kent Police has introduced a new strategy which deals directly with VAWG. It has five strands – holding offenders to account, supporting victims, keeping people safe, raising standards of professional behaviour, and strengthening systems of governance and partnerships.
Kent Police held engagement events across the county following the killing of Sarah Everard by a serving Metropolitan Police Officer. These reached over 1000 women and girls and gave them an opportunity to have their say on local safety issues and crime. This has led to the establishment of a regular forum which is giving the Force the opportunity to hear regular feedback.
The independent inspectorate of policing, HMICFRS, recently identified issues with Kent Police’s response to crime investigation and in particular, Domestic abuse. The Force has put together an improvement plan which will be scrutinised and the Force held to account for.
If a member of the public requests it, an Officer must radio the Force Control Room to undertake an identity verification check. Officers are encouraged to be proactive in offering them especially if they feel someone feels uncomfortable asking for one. A reference number should be issued. If further verification is required, the reference should be verifiable by phoning 999.
As a result of the VAWG Survey, and feedback from the Force’s work with women and girls, Kent Police’s patrol strategy has been amended to increase visibility in those areas where women and girls tell them that they do not feel safe.
There is a new national reporting mechanism for people to tell the Police areas where they feel unsafe, which is being used by the Force in conjunction with the new patrolling strategy.
The Office of the Kent Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCC) secured funding in partnership with Medway and Ashford Councils to run specific projects that are making women and girls safer. This has
included the street scene and physical interventions to improve feelings of safety, such as CCTV and lighting, signposting events, the establishment of safe spaces and active bystander training.
The Domestic Abuse Hub builds on from the Vulnerability Hub that has been in operation for a few years now. It will operate 7 days a week 8am – 10pm and will bolster the force’s resource & responsibility to become a centre of excellence for operational Domestic Abuse matters. It will provide additional support to victims too.
Established Vulnerability Investigation Proactive Teams
All divisions across Kent Police have already created their own Proactive teams - the new model will establish these teams and develop a consistent approach across the county, in line with the Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Action Plan.
The OPCC secured funding from the Home Office to set up a programme to change and challenge the behaviour of perpetrators of domestic abuse and stalking. This is being delivered by Interventions Alliance.
Further funding (£664,540.39 for Kent) has been given to PCCs by the Ministry of Justice to provide vital independent services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault so that they can offer extra help to those in need.
The Government is now publishing scorecards showing how well local criminal justice areas are performing against key measures. These are publicly available.
The NPCC has launched a new framework which focuses on how Police forces prioritise its violence against women and girls strategy. The three-year framework will initially focus on challenging sexism and misogyny and sexualised behaviour within all forces across England and Wales.
The three pillars of the framework are:
It focuses on the following themes:
Kent Police is committed to supporting the NPCC framework.