Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) is a global, national and local issue which, following recent tragic events, has brought to light the scale of the problem facing our communities.
Hertfordshire is a safe county although nowhere is immune to this challenge. The 2021 Herts Joint Strategic Needs Assessment highlighted that out of 23,000 violent and sexual offences in Hertfordshire in 2020/21, two thirds (66%) of victims were female.
We have listened to the Herts 2021 Personal Safety Survey, which received over 13,000 public responses. Of the female respondents, 72% have avoided going to places because they feel unsafe, 30% experienced abuse or harassment in the last two years and 23% didn’t report to police with the most common reason being they felt they wouldn’t be taken seriously.
It is vital that Hertfordshire Constabulary prioritises prevention of VAWG for the benefit of women and girls today and for the future - with learning and improvement in processes that will ultimately benefit everyone.
Tackling VAWG is everybody’s business. We recognise change on this scale requires a societal culture shift and the full commitment of all partners and communities.
We will work with communities and partner agencies to achieve the following:
We will increase trust by listening to victims’ voices to improve our services. We will provide high quality care through Victim’s Code Of Practice (VCOP) compliance and referrals to best support victims. We will build relationships with stakeholders to introduce alternative reporting options.
We will identify public spaces, education, social and work settings where people feel vulnerable and improve the environment, safety and feelings of safety.
They are responsible for the harm caused. We will prevent offending by identifying earlier those who present risk. We will use the full range of Criminal Justice outcomes to disrupt and support perpetrators into education and treatment to change behaviours.
VAWG will be prioritised within internal and partnership strategies ensuring resources are deployed to prevent and respond effectively. Policies, process and performance will be driven and monitored to drive out victimisation of women and girls.
We will ensure constabulary wide understanding of VAWG and train staff to drive a preventative approach to harm, offending and bringing offenders to justice.
We will raise awareness of VAWG offending, the support available and increase confidence to report. We will increase trust, especially in marginalized groups, through external scrutiny and accountability.
We will increase trust by demonstrating the highest ethical standards. We will develop a “call it out” culture where staff are “upstanders not bystanders” with the confidence to challenge concerns and the specialist skills to investigate them. We will engage our staff in improving internal processes and prevent harm by ensuring recruitment processes are effective.
Performance and data
We will monitor effectiveness using the Integrated Performance Framework with a focus on data quality. We will deploy evidence-based approaches using data and analysis to identify hotspots and prevent offending. We will repeat the County Personal Safety Survey to evaluate improvements in feelings of safety in the community and strategy delivery.
HM Government’s Tackling VAWG Strategy (July 2021). NPCC VAWG strategy (December 2021). HMICFRS VAWG Final Report (Sept 2021). Herts Police & Crime Commissioner’s Police & Crime Plan. Herts CCSU Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (Oct 2021). National Vulnerability Action Plan. The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (April 2021). Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Strategy (Nov 2021).
Delivery of this strategy will be overseen by the Local Policing and Safeguarding Board and the Ethics and Integrity Committee with accountability from the Operational Delivery Board (ODB), Chaired by the Deputy Chief Constable. Delivery of partnership actions will be overseen by the Strategic Executive Domestic Abuse Board.