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Letter to the Domestic Abuse Commissioner: violence against women and girls

Date:14 AUG 2023
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The Minister for Safeguarding has released a letter responding to the Domestic Abuse Commissioner on the issue of violence against women and girls. This is in reply to a 6th June letter from the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, covering several issues around stopping violence against women and girls.

"Dear Ms Jacobs,

Thank you for your letter of 6 June 2023 to the Home Secretary, raising a number of important issues concerning tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG). I am replying as the Minister for Safeguarding.

I am pleased to hear that you found your meeting with the Home Secretary and the Ministerial Steering Group helpful in working together to tackle these issues.

My reflections from the Steering Group are that a great deal of progress has been made in tackling VAWG. However, there is much more to do, and the Government remains determined to fulfil our ambitions in prioritising prevention, supporting victims, pursuing perpetrators and creating a stronger system.

The Government is continuing to strengthen the police’s response to all forms of VAWG, including domestic abuse. As you are aware, VAWG has now been added to the Strategic Policing Requirement, meaning it is set out as a national threat for forces to respond to alongside other threats such as terrorism, serious and organised crime, and child sexual abuse. We are also piloting the new Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Orders in Gwent, Greater Manchester, three London Metropolitan boroughs, and among the British Transport Police from spring 2024. Furthermore, we have committed to legislating to add controlling or coercive behaviour to the list of offences that trigger automatic eligibility for management under Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements, if the sentence threshold is met. We have also committed to developing a domestic abuse predictive risk tool to help police identify and target their most serious domestic abuse perpetrators."

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The letter continues: "

Publication of data by police forces on domestic abuse outcomes

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) VAWG Taskforce published their Outcomes and Performance Framework in April 2022, on how progress to tackle VAWG will be measured nationally, including performance indicators and data required from forces based on the principles in the Framework. The NPCC published their first performance report in March 2023, available at: https://news.npcc.police.uk/releases/first-benchmark-of-police-performance-on-tackling-violence-against-women-and-girls-published. This was published using data obtained from forces, and the NPCC also published a strategic threat and risk assessment in May 2023, outlining the areas where police should prioritise their resources to tackle VAWG crimes in the coming year.

I agree that accountability begins with greater transparency around data. The Office for National Statistics publishes annual data on crime outcomes for domestic abuse-related offences, following reconciliation by individual police forces. Data has been published for the majority of forces in recent years. The Government is keen that all police forces submit data regularly and consistently, and works with police forces to enable the data to be supplied via the Home Office Data Hub.

VAWG Ministerial Steering Group (VAWG MSG)

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for your attendance at the VAWG MSG. As I have mentioned, my Ministerial colleagues and I valued your insightful input into this meeting. My team are currently reviewing the structure of the VAWG MSG and will be in touch shortly to put a formal structure in place for your involvement in this.

National Oversight Group on Domestic Abuse

At present, we are not planning to reconvene the National Oversight Group. However, as you are aware, the VAWG MSG drives forward cross-government action to tackle VAWG. In addition to this, the Ministerial team regularly meets with the VAWG sector, policing and other critical stakeholders on important VAWG issues.

We are also taking action, such as through the Angiolini Inquiry, on police integrity. Part Two of the Inquiry is examining broader issues in policing (such as recruitment, vetting and culture) and the safety of women to ensure that the public can have confidence that the police are there to protect them.

As you are aware, we also launched a review earlier this year into police officer dismissals to ensure the system is effective at removing those not fit to serve, and asked the College of Policing to strengthen statutory guidance on vetting. Forces have also been checking all officers and staff against the Police National Database to help identify any intelligence requiring further investigation. On 11 May 2023, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services published a rapid review of forces’ progress against last year’s vetting, misconduct, and misogyny inspection. Whilst progress has been made, forces must ensure that they continue to deliver and address the inspectorate’s findings.

Separately, we are joined up with the NPCC and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who are developing a Domestic Abuse Joint Justice Plan (DA JJP) to improve the investigation and prosecution of domestic abuse cases, whilst ensuring a focus on the needs of victims. This important work is aimed at improving the understanding of why domestic abuse cases do not progress, improve public confidence in how cases are addressed, and enhance victims’ experiences of the Criminal Justice System. The NPCC and CPS are aiming to launch the DA JJP by the end of the year. We look forward to their findings and seeing how we can work together going forward on this work.

Thank you for your continued work and engagement with my officials in helping to tackle domestic abuse. We will be in touch with you on potential agenda items for our meeting in September, and your next meeting with the Home Secretary, once arranged.

Yours sincerely

Sarah Dines MP"