More must be done to keep women and girls safe in Wiltshire
The safety of women and girls in Wiltshire - and what can be done to further protect them from serious crimes like murder and rape - is being discussed today following the publication of a national report.
The report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) recommends that transformation of the whole system is required, which cannot be achieved by the police alone.
All of the evidence gathered will inform the Government’s violence against women and girls strategy. It recognises that while ‘great progress’ has been made by the police over the past decade, there is still evidence of inconsistent support for victims and low prosecution rates.
Chief Executive of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), Kieran Kilgallen said: "Recent high-profile crimes committed against women, including yesterday’s conviction of a man who brutally murdered sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, have rightly meant that society has had to sit up and listen to the very real and disturbing concerns that women and girls have about their safety.
"We should all feel safe in the areas that we live and work but what has been clear is that many women and girls don’t, and whilst there are a number of factors at play here, more must be done.
"In a similar vein to the end-to-end rape review this interim report highlights the failings in a system designed to bring victims justice and prevent future crime, and whilst improvements may have been made in recent years they simply haven't gone far enough.
"For too long the focus has been on the responsibility of victims to keep themselves safe, but we must refocus that conversation and ensure that the Criminal Justice System (CJS) and its partners, including local authorities, will do all it can to bring offenders to justice and most importantly, prevent offences from happening in the first place.
"That said, the responsibility for this does not sit with one agency alone and changes must be made across all parts of the CJS and the OPCC will continue to work with the Chief Constable to ensure that progress is being made in Wiltshire."
Wiltshire OPCC is supporting Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council to prepare bids for round three of the Safer Streets Government funding which focuses on improving the safety of public spaces, particularly those areas of potential concern to women and girls.
This is in addition to commissioning specialist support for victims and an independent review of police and CPS services to support Chief Constables and prosecutors to deliver improvements to investigations of rape and serious sexual offences across Wessex. This is in partnership with Hampshire and Dorset OPCCs and their respective police forces.
Interim report: Inspection into how effectively the police engage with women and girls can be found on the HMICFRS website.
Our response to the end-to-end rape review outlined the work happening in Wessex with our neighbouring OPCCs and police forces to improve criminal justice outcomes for rape and serious sexual offences. You can read that here: https://www.wiltshire-pcc.gov.uk/my-office/opcc-news/2021/june-2021/rape-victims-are-being-failed-by-the-criminal-justice-system/