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.
Violence against women and girls strategy
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.
Violence against women and girls forum
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.
HMICFRS Improvement Plan
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.
Officer verification checks
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.
New patrolling strategy
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.
Street Safe tool
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.
Safer Streets funding
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.
Kent Police Domestic Abuse Hub launched
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.
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.
Domestic abuse and stalking perpetrator programme
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.
IDVA and ISVA funding
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.
Criminal justice scorecards
The Government is now publishing scorecards showing how well local criminal justice areas are performing against key measures. These are publicly available.
NPCC VAWG Framework and action plans
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:
Build trust and confidence
Relentless perpetrator pursuit
It focuses on the following themes:
Respond unequivocally to allegations of police-perpetrated Learning from mistakes and best practice.
To challenge and address sexism and misogyny in Communicate immediately, clearly and frequently that misogynistic, sexist and sexualised behaviour will not be tolerated by anyone in policing.
Involve VAWG organisations including charities supporting black and minoritised women and girls as well as individual women and girls with lived experience. Establish regular independent scrutiny of force performance in responding to VAWG.
Collect consistent local and national information on availability of specialist and VAWG investigators to build the right capability and capacity. Complete an urgent skills gap analysis of the number of trained staff relative to current demand.
Relentlessly pursue and actively manage and target the most dangerous and prolific perpetrators. Ensure processes are in place to proactively identify individuals who pose the highest risk of harm to women and girls and actively manage them to prevent or reduce offending.
Better use of police powers to protect women and girls, and to manage and disrupt perpetrators. Increase effective use of protective and preventative tools and orders.
Adapt a trauma aware approach at all levels, to better support victims through the criminal justice process, and focus on evidence led prosecutions where appropriate. Raise officer and staff awareness of how the trauma of violent and abusive behaviours can affect VAWG victims.
Enhanced supervision of VAWG investigations. Develop a force process for enhanced and standardised supervision of VAWG investigations.
Kent Police is committed to supporting the NPCC framework.