Respect welcomes the government’s new Violence Against Women and Girls strategy. In particular, we are glad to see the emphasis on the prevention of violence; the acknowledgment that VAWG is inextricably linked with misogyny; and the recognition of the need to focus on perpetrators.
We are pleased to see that “the safety of women and girls across the country is our priority”, but are concerned that not all women and girls have equal access to safety and support, and would like to see stronger explicit commitments to addressing inequality, discrimination and racism and meeting the needs of Black and minoritised, migrant and disabled women and girls.
We are also concerned that the strand on “pursuing perpetrators” outlined in this strategy is too narrowly focused on criminal justice responses. We know that many survivors do not contact the police and that the vast majority of those who do are met with no further action. It is essential that we look beyond the criminal justice system and create a truly multi-agency approach to perpetrators, which can identify them early and ensure swift action to disrupt their behaviour, hold them to account, and minimise the harm they cause.
We know that strategies succeed or fail based on the resources allocated, how they’re implemented, and what mechanisms of accountability are in place.
The funding allocated is welcome but is nowhere near enough to achieve the aims of the strategy. Therefore, we call for significant budget allocation for both specialist service provision and towards improving statutory sector responses as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review.
We agree that “the successful implementation of the commitments throughout this Strategy requires close cooperation and coordination across England and Wales” and the expectation of “joint working between Government departments, the devolved administrations, policing and the wider criminal justice system, the violence against women and girls sector, health and social care agencies, and others” is critical. We hope to see robust mechanisms of accountability with structures in place to ensure that survivors and key voluntary sector representatives have a place in overseeing the implementation of the strategy. We look forward to playing our part in this.