Violence against women and girls has been much discussed in the media recently, following the murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa which shocked us all. And since then, at least 81 other UK women have been killed in circumstances where the suspect is a man. So, I was really pleased to see that the Government has just awarded Gloucestershire over £1m to make our streets safer.
This is the biggest single grant of additional funding that my hard-working team has ever achieved, since they were formed in 2012. Our bid was also the third largest in the whole country – even though our overall crime figures are relatively low – and is a testament to the professional care and passion of my team in focussing on our high crime hotspots to make our communities safer. We were also strongly supported by a range of partners, including Gloucester City Council and Richard Graham MP.
Our award will cover 2 crime fighting initiatives. Gloucester city centre will be the focus for dedicated CCTV, and more street lighting will make Gloucester Park and areas near the train station more secure and deter criminality.
We also have a really innovative countywide programme of activity, which includes mobile CCTV to deter violence in crime hotspots, an anonymous phone app to encourage more reporting of sensitive incidents, an initiative called “bystander training” – which encourages people to call-out inappropriate or harmful behaviour by their peers – and behaviour training in schools for primary age children delivered by older secondary school children with the aim of making it more relevant purposeful.
Women and girls should feel safe on our streets
The behaviour training is all about trying to change the attitude of those who seem to think it acceptable to show aggression and violence towards women and girls. It is not. We also have to focus more on changing the behaviour of perpetrators rather than making it all about the victim as has often happened in the past.
Women and girls should feel safe on our streets and not have to change their behaviour in order to reduce their vulnerability to violence, either in the night-time economy or at home. It is aggressive men who need to change not their victims.
It is also appropriate to highlight that this week is National Hate Crime Awareness Week, as men need to do more to stamp out misogyny in all its forms and make sure we all show more respect to women. It really is time for change.
This much needed investment will be put to good use within Gloucestershire as I intend to make Violence against Women and Girls one of the priorities within my emerging Police and Crime Prevention Plan.