Safety For Women and Girls Focus of Online Event
Friday 16th April 2021,
The West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns Williamson this week (15/04) hosted an online event to help address concerns on the theme of violence against women and girls.
Prompted by the recent tragic events and debate nationally, it aims to understand what more can be done locally to keep women and girls safe and how this can be achieved in partnership.
Speakers also included the West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable, John Robins QPM, the Chief Executive of Leeds Women’s Aid, Nick Peasgood and Councillor Jenny Lynn, Chair of the Calderdale Community Safety Partnership
Over 100 delegates joined, including groups and organisations, which play a key role in supporting women and girls across different areas and communities in West Yorkshire
Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), said:
“The events we have witnessed nationally have quite understandably generated much concern and discussion here in West Yorkshire and along with the Chief Constable, West Yorkshire Police and many of our partners we are doing all we can to provide added reassurance to women and girls.
“This is why we came together with various local partners who are able to support women and girls and most importantly share their knowledge to help shape our future approaches.
“The response in West Yorkshire cannot be managed by any one agency alone and there was a recognition across the board of the collective effort required to address the issues which are cultural and societal.
“By working together in this way, we can begin to influence positively the national action plans and legislation, adopting a more strategic approach which will be critical in the months and years ahead.
“Whilst long term sustainable funding is key, we also need to understand and address quality of life issues for women and girls, not to mention impacts around their fear of crime and feeling safe.
“We now intend to produce a report capturing the important points made during the course of this event and any subsequent actions required to develop our thinking.
“This complements the host of work already on-going in West Yorkshire, including work to boost confidence in the criminal justice system and improve outcomes which was highlighted at the event.
“I have, for instance, supported the three-rape crisis centres in West Yorkshire, providing them with core grants to sustain them through difficult times. I have also been working with a wider range of organisations in both the domestic and sexual abuse field to ensure additional funding gets to the organisations that need it most, as quickly as possible.
“This is only one aspect of a wider programme with partners to improve and strengthen the support available for women and girls. I commissioned the first ever West Yorkshire wide Independent Sexual Violence Adviser service in 2015 and have provided additional resources year on year to help meet demand and fill identified gaps.
“In partnership, I have also developed and delivered the long held vision for the new Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) facility, a £2.8m investment with NHS England which opened last year. It includes one of three community- based locations for victims and witnesses to give evidence remotely, rather than facing potential further trauma by attending court. It is a facility that I believe is now second to none and will only go from strength to strength in providing specialist support.
“Nationally, we have recently sent a detailed submission to the Government’s Call for Evidence for their forthcoming Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy, which is due to be published in the summer. However, we know there is much more still to do and there can be no complacency in achieving the positive changes that we all want to see and it was really heartening to listen and hear from so many passionate advocates.”
Anyone suffering abuse, or that has suffered abuse in the past should come forward and contact the police, Victim Support’s ISVA service, Rape Crisis, or Women’s Aid who will listen, show respect and do all they can to help.
For more information on the services and reporting options available please contact Victim Support West Yorkshire on 0300 303 1971 or visit their website. It is not necessary to report to the Police to access support. All the services the PCC funds are open to self-referral.