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Massive response to Violence Against Women and Girls Commission’s call for evidence

To ensure that recommendations from the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Commission result in real change for Plymouth, members have agreed to extend their work so they can further scrutinise the overwhelming amount of evidence that has been submitted.

The VAWG Commission was launched in January 2022 to review 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.

Since it was established the Commission has received a huge amount of evidence, including;

  • 1,327 local people sharing their experiences in a survey
  • Written submissions from  groups and organisations that work with victims
  • Around 40 hours listening to feedback from 33 individuals or organisations during evidence sessions

The Commission heard about a vast number of issues and considerations, arranged under the key themes of the role of men and boys, children and young people, places and spaces and culture as well as a session focused on innovation and best practice.

Today (23 March 2022), members of the Commission agreed that they are going to take two further months to explore the evidence that has been submitted, identify any gaps in areas where they need more detail and consider new regional and national strategies that have recently been launched. This includes the recent announcements that VAWG is to become a national policing priority, and the fourth round of the Government’s Safer Streets Fund, which has an additional focus on violence against women and girls.

This additional time will ensure that the final report and recommendations will be robust, aspirational, far-reaching and importantly will really make a difference to the lives of local people.

The report will then be published on the 27 May 2022.

Chair of the Commission, Councillor Rebecca Smith, said: “I have always said that the final report and recommendations must be done at pace. However, the process must be robust, thorough and demand actions that will result in real change.

“It has been overwhelming how many individuals and organisations have made their views known about what is already happening in Plymouth to prevent violence towards women and girls, and highlight what they think needs to be done.

“We owe it to the women and girls of Plymouth to thoroughly consider all of the evidence we have received so far to ensure that what we recommend will make a tangible, long-term difference and will result in women and girls feeling and being safe at home, in school, work and in our communities.

“The Commission has also identified that there are a few gaps that we haven’t fully explored. Therefore, over the next few weeks we will look at these areas and others to ensure that no stone is left unturned.

“This won’t however stop planned work to keep our city safe continuing, including the recent announcements regarding CCTV improvements and investment in by-stander training.”

Nazir Afzal OBE, former Chief Crown Prosecutor for NW England, who has been advising the Commission, added: “I very much support the decision to take a little more time to assess the staggering amount of evidence that the Commission has diligently collected together with the 1000s of survey responses. 

“The set of draft recommendations are better turned into actions that will deliver the change needed and it’s a credit to the commission that they want to do that before finishing their work.”

The new Leader of Plymouth City Council, also added his support to the Commission. Councillor Richard Bingley, said:

“I have been really impressed so far that the multi-agency, cross-party Commission has been able to undertake such a vast amount of work in such a short period of time. It is vitally important that findings and recommendations deliver true change, so that all women and girls can see, and feel, a tangible difference in the city. I look forward to supporting the Commission in the future.” 

Whilst the report is being published post the 2022 local election, the Council previously agreed a motion that received cross-party support for the Commission and subsequent reporting and recommendations.