As a city we have been and will continue to work to make Plymouth safer with a range of practical and long term measures.
If you have been impacted by domestic abuse, sexual violence or violence against women and girls, and need help and support, there is a wide network of local organisations that can help. Find out more.
We believe that Violence Against Women and Girls is everyone’s issue. This CANNOT be about women having to watch what they are doing, where they are going, what they are wearing. There has to be wholescale change of culture, behaviour and approach and this does not happen overnight.
Last year we established the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Commission 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. In May 2022, the final report and recommendations into Male Violence Against Women and Girls, was published.
Plymouth City Council is also working in partnership with other organisations across the city to keep women and girls safe. This work includes:
Working together to change culture
- We are working with the NSPCC in schools to encourage young people to understand consent and gender stereotypes. We are working to build the confidence of communities to recognise and call out unacceptable and inappropriate behaviour.
- Safer Streets 3 funded community engagement work carried out by NSPCC resulted in the creation of 5 films that show an intergenerational approach to preventing VAWG. There will be a launch of the films during 16 days of activism on 5 December.
- The NSPCC Together for Childhood project is leading work with young people and partners to explore online harms and the impacts of pornography. The project will take the form of a city-wide campaign to support conversations.
- We are working with partners on an annual programme of communications including. This has included our campaign with NSPCC Stop it Now! in February aimed at preventing child sexual abuse and encouraging people concerned about their own behaviour to seek support. Every year we work with partners on events and communications for the 16 days of activism campaign 25 November to10 December.
- A Male Allyship Network has been established with twelve male senior leaders from a range of organisations across the City including Plymouth City Council. Started with funding from the Safer Streets 3 fund they worked with Beyond Equality to start the conversation on being an ally. Preparation is underway to launch M.A.N. Culture during the 16 days of activism at the end of November. The network will recruit other men through engagement and campaigning with agencies and communities. This will be followed by the future delivery of a conference in Plymouth primarily for men to raise awareness amongst and engage the voices of men and boys in Plymouth around the impact of VAWG to influence culture change and reduce male violence so that Plymouth is a safer place for women and girls.
- Plymouth City Council have become White Ribbon accredited. Work has included the launch of bystander training for all staff and domestic abuse training for all staff is in development.
- We have been instigating bystander training for a wide range of organisations including a focus on staff and workers in the evening and night time economy and the taxi trade to have the courage and know what action to take when they see worrying behaviour. Through Safer Streets 3 funding we have trained a group of Bystander trainers who are working to roll out training to organisations and businesses across the city.
- We are working with partners to develop a co-ordinated response to men and boys who are violent or abusive and cause harm. This entails ensuring that they get the help they need to change their behaviours. Ahimsa a local specialist organisation provide interventions including a 30 week group work programme, a 1:1 service for ‘high risk, high harm’ perpetrators, and ‘Inside Out’ – a new service for young people (18 to-25 years) who use abusive behaviour in their intimate/ family relationships. The purpose of their work is to challenge and support perpetrators of abuse to cease their violent and abusive behaviour to become responsible and loving human beings.
- We supported the University of Plymouth to apply for Economic and Social Research Council funding and over the next year will be working closely with members of the public in Plymouth, including those from traditionally marginalised groups, to develop new research projects to reduce and prevent VAWG in Plymouth.
Working together to support women and girls
- Plymouth city council commissions Plymouth Domestic Abuse Service (PDAS) to offer specialist support and safe accommodation to those experiencing domestic abuse.
- We also commission a service providing therapeutic counselling to people who are victims of sexual violence and abuse. First Light provide this service which includes pre-trial therapy, a recovery programme for adults and children and young people over 11 years. We are part of a partnership steering group to support design and implementation of the local Independent Sexual Violence Advisory (ISVA) service provided by First Light.
- Plymouth City Council is part of a South West Peninsula wide partnership of local authorities and health systems that has been awarded three years of funding for the NHS England Sexual Violence Trauma Pathfinder Project. The project aims to create innovative and transformational system change to the benefit of people experiencing sexual violence related trauma.
- Through a partnership with Trevi House the city has been awarded £896,713 from the Tampon Tax to prevent women with multiple disadvantages being affected by violence and abuse, helping them to achieve a better quality of life. The project, known as the Southwest Women’s Spark Project, is being delivered across the counties of Devon, Cornwall and Dorset. It involves a unique partnership of 7 organisations including the Women’s Centre Cornwall, Exeter CoLab, the NSPCC, The Zone, Plymouth City Council, BCHA and the Eddystone Trust.
- We have a Local Partnership Board for Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence who meet monthly to lead a system-wide approach to ensure Plymouth residents live in safety, free from sexual violence and domestic abuse. The board is also responsible for supporting the Council to meet its duties under the Domestic Abuse Act. This includes work to increase the availability of safe accommodation.
- Plymouth is one of 15 areas participating in the Changing Futures programme, funded by Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities and Communities Fund. We were awarded £2.4m for a three-year period to the end of the 2023/24 financial year. The programme aims to improve outcomes for adults through testing more joined-up, person-centred approaches that are supported by a culture of being trauma informed and within an ethos of co-production. The delivery plan has a focus on creating change at individual, service, and systems levels within specific systems of interest, covering:
- Domestic abuse and sexual violence
- Criminal justice
- Care experienced young people becoming adults
- Health inclusion
The programme is also supporting a wide range of enabling initiatives for example around shared case management systems for DASV services and a technology solution to support MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference) information sharing, as well as digital inclusion and personalised budget initiatives. As well as investing heavily in a ‘people team’ that will support building City-wide capacity and capability in co-producing with people with lived experience, alongside the continued development and coordination of the Trauma Informed Plymouth Network. Recent activity includes supporting women at Trevi to engage in co-design of the VAWG charter and attend the VAWG conference.
Working together to create safe places and spaces
- Funded by Safer Streets 3 fund Plymouth City Council has launched 12 purple interactive help points in and around the city centre, Barbican and Mutley as part of a package of measures to support people, especially women and girls, feel safer.
- Other measures include increasing CCTV and street lighting improvements in key locations in the city.
- We supported the University of Plymouth with a successful bid to the Home Office for Safer Streets 4 funding. This will fund a mobile CCTV van as a high visibility deterrent to tackling anti-social behaviour and Violence Against Women and Girls.
- There is a new night bus service up and running offering three routes each running at midnight, 2:00am and 4:00am ever Saturday Night (Sunday morning).
- Funded by Safer Streets 4, we are leading a project to make tactical, visible environmental improvements across Plymouth, using referrals from the Police or local councillors (on behalf of residents) to improve feelings of safety in hotspots. These may be simple changes such as trimming back trees to improve the lighting in dark walkways or improving the appearance of areas that have become run down.
- We have been working with partners in the city’s transport network to extend the Ask for Angela campaign which is already up and running across various evening and night time economy venues.
- We are working with businesses in the evening and night time economy to deliver vulnerability and bystander training to key staff including door staff.
About Safer Streets
Plymouth was awarded further funding from the Safer Streets 4 fund in a bid led by the University of Plymouth. This is following successful delivery of projects under the Safer Streets 3 fund. Plymouth was awarded £512,000 from the Government’s Safer Streets 3 fund. The submission was made by Plymouth City Council supported by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).
This is the third round the city has successfully won. Since its inception, the Government has committed £120 million to the Safer Streets Fund to support local areas across England and Wales to introduce initiatives aimed at stopping offences happening in the first place.
This has supported some of the measures we are taking over the next year and will bring about longer term change.
The main aims of the fund are to:
- Reduce violence against women and girls (VAWG) and increase women and girls’ feelings of safety in public spaces
- Build the evidence base for what works on reducing VAWG crimes and increasing feelings of safety in the public domain
- Improve both the national and local data picture regarding VAWG crimes in public spaces, which could include increased reporting for some crime types
- Make public spaces safer for all.