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New Commission launches to tackle violence against women and girls in Plymouth

06 January 2022

Next week a group of experts, key partners and agencies will come together to form a new Commission reviewing what more needs to be done to prevent violence against women and girls in Plymouth.

The Commission will meet for the first time on Monday 10 January.

Membership of the Commission includes:

  • Cllr Rebecca Smith, Plymouth City Council (Chair)
  • Nate Eisenstadt, University of West of England
  • Chief Supt Matt Longman, Devon and Cornwall Police
  • Alexis Wright, Domestic Abuse Consultant
  • Prof Luna Dolezal, University of Exeter
  • Richard Woodland, Westcounty Schools Trust
  • Edd Moore, Plymouth Live
  • Cllr Sally Haydon, Plymouth City Council
  • Carolyn Giles, Plymouth Citybus
  • Ollie Mackie, NSPCC
  • Dr Lynne Callaghan, Plymouth University
  • Clare Baker, Plymouth Women in Business
  • Emi Dowse, Plymouth University Student Union
  • Dr. Ishani Kar-Purkayastha, Office for Health Improvement and Disparities
  • Anna MacGregor, Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s Office

See more information about the membership of the Commission.

In addition, former Chief Crown Prosecutor for NW England, Nazir Afzal OBE, will be working with the Commission as an independent advisor, bringing expertise from his 24 year career prosecuting the most high profile cases in the country and advising on many others. He has led nationally on several legal topics including Violence against Women & Girls, child sexual abuse, and honour based violence. His prosecutions of the “Rochdale grooming gang” and hundreds of others were ground-breaking and drove the work that has changed the landscape of child protection.

Chair of the Commission, Councillor Rebecca Smith, said: “Last year we saw the tragic murders of a number of women in our city at the hands of men. This kind of crime is not unique to Plymouth, however as we heard at our virtual Q and A in December 2021, many women and girls sadly do still feel fear, intimidation, harassment and helplessness on a regular basis. We cannot let this continue.

“Too often the responsibility for tackling male violence against women and girls falls on women. In Plymouth, we want to tackle this issue at the root, whilst supporting anyone who is a victim of this type of crime. We have put together an extensive panel of experts from across Plymouth and beyond, who are all committed to the same goal, and I look forward to working with them over the weeks and months ahead.

“On our journey, I am also really pleased that we are able to get guidance and advice from Nazir Afzal OBE – who is a national leading expert in this area.

“One of the first things our Commission will be looking at is ensuring that we have a wide engagement programme, ensuring that as many voices as possible across Plymouth have an opportunity to help shape our work.”

Over the next three months the Commission will aim to shine a spotlight on the national issue of violence against women and girls and to understand more about the issue for those living in Plymouth. To do this, the Commission will work:

  • To take a proactive stance to better understanding a wide range of views and experiences, and consider what more needs to be done to tackle the issue.
  • To improve the perception, and the lived experience of women and girls that Plymouth is a safe city.
  • To promote a better understanding of the causes and means of addressing male violence against women and girls.
  • To provide impetus for key partners and the private sector to review their contribution to tackling VAWG in the city.
  • To take the opportunity to revisit and revise local policies if appropriate, including the Public Health approach to addressing VAWG, and to identify and seek to influence any areas of national policy that need revising.
  • To review existing partnership arrangements in the city to make sure there is a clear focus and tangible action on addressing VAWG, including its wider impact on the families and children of victims and abusers.
  • To ensure there is strong and visible leadership on VAWG for the city to drive through the recommendations identified by the Commission, and to be the champion for change. 

As part of the work of the Commission a full engagement programme will be launched, inviting local organisations who work with female victims of violence and residents across the city to hear more about their experiences and their recommendations about what more needs to be done.

Watch the video of the virtual Q and A event here.

Find the answers to questions raised at the virtual Q and A here.

Find out more about what Plymouth City Council is doing to keep our streets safe.