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Council united in fighting violence against women and girls

The new local Commission set up to combat Violence Against Women and Girls has received cross-party support this week, emphasising the Council’s commitment to tackling the issue in Plymouth.

The Violence Against Women and Girls Commission was announced at the end of 2021. The Commission brings key partners and agencies across the city together to review what more needs to be done to prevent this type of crime.

The Commission is chaired by Councillor Rebecca Smith, with expert advice from former Chief Crown Prosecutor for NW England – Nazir Afzal OBE. They have already met twice, and are now reviewing what is being done across the city to educate men and boys, prevent and deter these types of crimes and consider what support is available for victims.

At the full Council meeting on Monday (24 January), Councillor Vivien Pengelly, Cabinet Member for Homes and Communities, alongside Councillor Jemima Laing, Chair of the Education and Children’s Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee and a member of the opposition group, jointly proposed a motion to:

  • Endorse the establishment of the Commission
  • Support the objectives of the Commission
  • Support the Commission in its work and looks forward to receiving its recommendations
  • Commit the Council to resourcing the Commission’s recommendations as they pertain to Plymouth City Council action plans
  • Commit to asking every Cabinet Member to look at areas in their portfolio which can contribute to making women feel safer

Councillor Pengelly said: “Tackling violence against women and girls is a city-wide issue. This ambitious Commission has been set up at pace to respond to the growing concerns that we are seeing in our communities, our work places, our homes, online and in our schools.

“The work of the Commission is vast. But the members are committed and passionate about getting it right. They have ambitious plans about hearing from local people and organisations, reviewing significant amounts of evidence, and understanding the innovative best practice being delivered elsewhere.

“We must all come together to offer our support, and accept the Commission findings in March. It is important that we adopt any recommendations within the Council’s control and move forward, to ensure that Plymouth is safe and we do what we can to prevent any more tragedies, as we have seen in the last 12 months.”

Councillor Laing added: “Over the past twelve months there have been a number of tragic events in the city where women have lost their lives at the hands of men. We need to do all we can to stop this happening again. We need to make sure that all women and girls are safe and feel safe in their homes, in work, in their community and in social situations.

“This cross party Commission is carrying out an extensive review of what work is happening currently to make Plymouth safe, but also hearing from local people about how they feel, their experiences, and what they would like to see happen to create real change.

“We need to support the work of the Commission and ensure that no door remains closed. But importantly, we need to make sure that we listen to the Commission and take real, tangible actions that will make a lasting difference to the city.”  

Find out more about the Commission and membership.

As part of their work, they are currently seeking evidence and feedback from a wide range of local organisations, victims, and experts, including local people. An online survey has been launched, inviting local people to share their views and experiences. Have your say before 15 February 2022.