Sometimes, however difficult it may be, the most effective thing you can do is listen.

That is why I thought it important that I attended the recent meeting in Stroud, instigated by Rodborough Parish Council, to discuss concerns about the recent spate of male violence and intimidation against women and girls in the town.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those who attended, and for the powerful and moving testimony from those women who spoke out. The strength of feeling and concern was clear to see.

It was also clear that action needs to be taken to improve communications and confidence and I am determined to make sure that everyone involved acts to address the issues raised. From the language we use, to detection rates for these serious crimes; from making places and transport feel safer, to making sure we are telling people what is being done.

This is one of the reasons I made tackling male violence against women and girls one of the priorities in my Police and Crime Prevention Plan. It helps me deliver on some of the most important parts of my role: holding the Police to account and bringing partners together to help develop sustainable solutions to problems like this. And I’m pleased to see that rapid action has already been taken.

High visibility and covert patrols are underway in places where some feel threatened to help reassure the public and target offenders. The County, District and Town Councils are working together to make the underpass and cemetery feel less intimidating to people using the area, and I’ve made funding available to help make this happen. I’ve also asked both my office and the Constabulary to look at the language they use to describe offences like this and to find better, more effective ways at sharing the work they are doing. Like promoting our Flare app (available via flarereport.co.uk), which allows people to anonymously report incidents including things like street harassment.

Lastly, and most importantly, I’m pleased to say that Gloucestershire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) are about to make a step change in the way they deal with rape and serious sexual offences in our area by joining Operation Soteria, a project which is bringing together academics, the police and the CPS, and is designed to improve the investigation of and response to rape and serious sexual assault.