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Police strategy to end violence against women and girls taking shape

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Police say they have been working hard to improve the way they respond to incidents involving violence against women and girls (VAWG).

A new strategy was launched in November with key aims of improving VAWG performance across all areas of the force, building long-term cultural change and restoring public confidence in the police.

Chief Constable Nick Dean said: “We have always had strategies in place to protect vulnerable people, but the last year has highlighted the need to review and further improve our strategic and tactical response to violence against women and girls.

A new strategy was launched in November with key aims of improving VAWG performance
A new strategy was launched in November with key aims of improving VAWG performance

“In Cambridgeshire, we demonstrate examples of outstanding practice every day of the week and the role our staff play, in often challenging circumstances, is fully recognised. However, we know we need to improve, and we are determined to do so.

“This comprehensive strategy has seen us adopt a more perpetrator-focused approach while ensuring all areas of VAWG response are delivered in the most effective and appropriate way.”

Det Supt John Massey, Head of Protecting Vulnerable People (PVP), said: “The work we have been doing has already shown an improvement in victim support, offender targeting and effective investigations.

Det Supt John Massey, Head of Protecting Vulnerable People
Det Supt John Massey, Head of Protecting Vulnerable People

“There have been four distinct improvement projects, all of which are evolving and will continue to strive for enhancement.”

The projects are as follows:

Project Kaizen: Domestic Abuse. This project examined each phase of a domestic abuse investigation, from the point a victim contacted police to the conclusion of the court process and beyond.

Project lead DI Dave Savill said: “This has been an opportunity to reshape and enhance the way we deliver our service to victims of domestic abuse.

“The spotlight is rightly on the police service to demonstrate how it will keep victims safe and bring more perpetrators to justice. Project Kaizen has been, and will be, critical in achieving this.

“Focus groups were completed to understand the challenges faced by front-line staff. Following this we have put together materials to support officers in their decision making, improved existing processes, and introduced new systems.”

Project Artemis: Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation (CSAE). This provides a strategic review of CSAE response through effective partnership engagement and early-intervention strategies with the aim of creating an environment where children feel safe in their homes, community and online.

DCI Sherrie Nash, who is leading the project, said: “Through robust targeting of perpetrators and ever-advancing technological investigation techniques, offences against children and young people will be more readily identified and positive action taken.

“We will seek all available outcomes to pursue offenders and maximise safeguarding through professional investigations, criminal justice measures, partnership working and opportunities through civil measures such as Sexual Risk Orders.

“We will also expand our links regionally and nationally to ensure offenders who operate within the online space or within organised crime groups are brought to justice. Cambridgeshire will become a more hostile place for those who commit harm to children and young people.”

Project Boyd: Offender management and Public Protection Unit (PPU). This project reviewed the offender management and PPU processes across all Cambridgeshire. Ensuring that a consistent approach is adopted when managing registered sex offenders (RSOs), dangerous, and violent offenders within the community.

Lead DCI Jenni Brain said: “We visit offenders frequently; testing our risk assessments and searching for any behaviour that might mean an individual is breaching the terms of any release licence or showing signs of reoffending in the future.

“We are committed to keeping people safe by ensuring we share sufficient information about those at risk of causing others harm. With this knowledge, professionals can make more informed decisions about the impact of an individual’s behaviour, and we can reduce the opportunity for contact and online offending.”

Project Eleos: Serious Sexual Offences (SSO)/Rape Investigation. This has involved the review of the force’s SSO response.

Project lead DI Helen Tebbit said: “Project Eleos outlines the current and future responses the force will adopt to improve standards of rape investigation.

“By addressing officer attitudes, conducting thorough and robust perpetrator-focused investigations and listening to survivor feedback, we will ensure victims of sexual violence receive the most professional, joined-up service and support that our countywide partnership can provide.”

In addition to the four improvement strands, the Home Office’s Safer Streets Three funding has helped address the issue of VAWG through training of night-time economy staff and targeted patrols.

This project has involved both uniformed and plain-clothed police officers carrying out patrols of high-footfall areas around bars, pubs and clubs in the cities, on the lookout for anyone displaying concerning behaviour such as loitering without reason, making unwanted contact towards people or aggressive or domineering behaviour.

This funding will continue to help through a long-term behaviour change media campaign which will be launched later this year.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Darryl Preston, said: “As your Commissioner, I am determined that our streets and homes become safe places for all women and girls. I know that our Chief Constable shares this determination.

“Within Cambridgeshire and Peterborough partners are coming together to tackle violence against women and girls. This includes enhanced victim support, robust enforcement and preventing these crimes from happening in the first place.

“We will continue to make improvements in this area.”

All of these strategies and tactics combine to work towards the key aim of bringing offenders to justice and making the streets of Cambridgeshire safer.

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