Surrey Police gives update on Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy following HMICFRS report
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Surrey Police is today providing an update on the positive progress it has made on its Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy, following the publication of a separate national report on the subject.
The HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), the College of Policing (CoP) and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), have responded to a super-complaint submitted by The Centre for Women’s Justice in a report published today (24 August).
The report highlights police failure on a national level to use protective measures in cases involving violence against women and girls, in particular around the below issues:
Forces not imposing appropriate bail conditions to safeguard victims;
Failing to arrest those who breach non-molestation orders;
Not issuing an adequate number of Domestic Violence Protection Notices (DVPN) and Orders (DVPO);
Failing to apply for restraining orders in appropriate cases.
In response to the issues above, Surrey Police has outlined what preventative measures are used by the Force to safeguard women and girls.
Surrey Police was recently inspected by HMICFRS as one of the first police forces in the UK to have a Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy, which was launched in June this year. This included a full review of the way the Force implements, maintains and monitors protective measures. Ahead of the full report in September, this work was seen as progressive and good practice. For example, HMICFRS praised Surrey Police’s use of Stalking Prevention Orders.
HMICFRS also commended Surrey Police’s governance of DVPO, which are regularly applied for by the Force and monitored in daily management meetings by a Chief Inspector. More recently, as part of Surrey Police’s VAWG strategy, DVPN and arrest data has been used to identify perpetrators of VAWG and refer them to a range of intervention programmes. These programmes also apply to suspects who face no further police action following arrest.
Temporary Detective Superintendent, Matt Barcraft-Barnes, who is Force Lead for Domestic Abuse, said: “As a Force, we have had, and continue to have, a full, in-depth look at how we respond to cases involving violence against women and girls (VAWG), having implemented our VAWG strategy in June.
“We have a crucial role to play to ensure that all residents of Surrey, including women and girls, feel safe in our county. Part of this role is ensuring that we are using policing powers proactively and appropriately to protect victims of violence, abuse, stalking and harassment.
“To further understand how the women and girls in our community feel about safety in Surrey, we launched a survey in April. We were encouraged to hear that 94% of the 5000 women and girls surveyed felt safe in their own home, with a large number reporting positive experiences with Surrey Police.
“However, we also received constructive comments on where improvement could be made and where we can do better. The survey identified particular areas of Surrey where women and girls felt unsafe, this means that we can target our resources to better prevent crime and increase safety. The findings of this survey will continue to play a leading role in our VAWG strategy over the coming months and years.
“Although we have seen positive results from our VAWG strategy and continue to make progress, there are some areas where we may fall short as a Force. For example, in order to improve the service victims receive, we have implemented dedicated Domestic Abuse Teams who better engage with victims and work to prosecute perpetrators. In addition to existing partnership working in this area, we have also introduced monthly meetings to focus on targeting high risk perpetrators.
“While Surrey Police is not cited in this report, we are committed to reviewing the findings and recommendations as part of the work we are undertaking in our VAWG strategy.”
Chief Executive Officer of Your Sanctuary Fiamma Pather, said: “As a provider of specialist support to survivors of domestic abuse in Surrey, we understand how difficult it is for women and girls to report violence or abuse. When they do report they need to be assured that the police response is positive and effective in order to keep them safe and hold perpetrators to account.
“We are very encouraged by the work that has already been undertaken by our partners in Surrey Police who have taken a proactive approach to their responses to VAWG. For instance, we feel that the creation of specialist domestic abuse teams will greatly improve the service that survivors receive and will enable greater partnership working.
“We look forward to seeing the progress of the Surrey VAWG strategy as a result of the findings of this report to improve responses to women and girls subjected to violence and abuse, and hope that other areas in England follow suit to ensure that there isn’t a postcode lottery. All women and girls should be able to live in safety and without fear, no matter where they live or what their circumstances.”
Surrey Police will continue to evaluate its use of protective measures in cases of VAWG. This includes listening to victims of violence in order to understand what they need on an individual basis, and reviewing the training and support in place for officers in order that they understand and feel confident in correctly applying appropriate preventative measures.
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