It’s time for fundamental change

Responding to the findings of the HMICFRS report which calls for violence against women and girls to be treated with the same priority as terrorism, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, said now was the time to take action.

In its report commissioned by the Home Secretary, HMICFRS recommended a series of improvements that the police could make but also focused on the need for a whole system approach to tackle violence against women and girls (VAWG).

Please read the Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s full statement in response to the report.

“In the wake of the horrific deaths of Sarah Everard, Nicole Smallman, Bibaa Henry and far too many others, we can no longer turn away from the reality of violence against women and girls on our streets and in our homes.

“As this HMICFRS report makes clear – we need urgent and radical reform if we are to get to grips with this epidemic of violence and abuse, which affects millions and costs our society over £66bn every year.

“I welcome the Government’s commitment to tackling violence against women and girls, and its decision to commission HMICFRS to conduct this report.  The changes HMICFRS recommends for the police are significant but policing alone won’t solve these deeply entrenched problems. The HMICFRS rightly focuses on the need for far more ambitious shifts across all public bodies.

“It recognises that the Government’s new serious violence duty as laid out in the Policing Bill could be a fundamental way of addressing and preventing serious violence but acknowledges that it doesn’t go far enough “to promote the co-ordinated and bespoke multi-agency response that is needed specifically for VAWG (violence against women and girls).”

“I believe that this is essential. The Government must explicitly include sexual violence, domestic homicides and domestic abuse in the definition of serious violence for the purpose of the prevention duty, which could bring the transformative response that is needed.

“It would mean that a range of public bodies such as the police, health and probation would have to work together to tackle and prevent serious violence including domestic abuse, sexual violence and other crimes which disproportionately affect women and girls but which have been minimised and side-lined for too long.

“The Covid-19 pandemic threw into sharp relief the horrors endured by victims of domestic abuse and we must not forget them.

“The amendment to the PCSC Bill (Policing Bill) represents a critical opportunity to implement an early intervention, public health focused approach to tackling serious violent crime, rather than relying solely on the criminal justice system, which only come into play after an offence.

“There is no more time for delay. We have seen far too many women and girls as victims of violence and abuse.”