Three months is a long time in the life of a Police Commissioner

Unveiling her strategy for 2021-25 at the end of September “Alison Hernandez says she takes it seriously but…”, she said key community priorities are breaking the cycle of violence, reducing drug harm, tackling antisocial behaviour and improving road safety. 

Alison Hernandez responded to suggestions that tackling gender-based violence isn’t given high enough priority in her draft plan.   

She said it was important to note that, although violence against women is an important issue, it is crucial to see the statistics in perspective.   “I will just highlight that men are more likely to be a victim of crime than women, and that more men are likely to be murdered than a woman,” she said.

Fast forward three months, Plymouth has new priorities:

Violence against Plymouth women and girls is being tackled

Daniel Clark www.plymouthherald.co.uk 

A commission which has been formed to review what more needs to be done to prevent violence against women and girls in Plymouth will meet for the first time on Monday.

The Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Commission will review what is being done across the city to educate men and boys, prevent and deter these types of crimes and consider what support is available for victims.

It will invite local organisations who work with female victims of violence, to hear more about their experiences and their recommendations about what more needs to be done.

The commission was set up following the death of 18 year-old Bobbi-Anne McCleod who disappeared from a bus stop in the Leigham area of the city last month. Cody Ackland, 24, has been charged with her murder.

The Commission will meet for the first time on Monday, January 10.

A protest in Plymouth which calls for an end to male violence against women following the disappearance of 18-year-old Bobbi-Anne McLeod.

A protest in Plymouth which calls for an end to male violence against women following the disappearance of 18-year-old Bobbi-Anne McLeod. (Image: Eve Watson)

Chair of the Commission, Cllr Rebecca Smith, said: “Last year we saw the tragic murders of a number of women in our city at the hands of men. This kind of crime is not unique to Plymouth, however as we heard at our virtual Q and A in December 2021, many women and girls sadly do still feel fear, intimidation, harassment and helplessness on a regular basis. We cannot let this continue.

“Too often the responsibility for tackling male violence against women and girls falls on women. In Plymouth, we want to tackle this issue at the root, whilst supporting anyone who is a victim of this type of crime.

“We have put together an extensive panel of experts from across Plymouth and beyond, who are all committed to the same goal, and I look forward to working with them over the weeks and months ahead.

“On our journey, I am also really pleased that we are able to get guidance and advice from Nazir Afzal OBE – who is a national leading expert in this area.

“One of the first things our Commission will be looking at is ensuring that we have a wide engagement programme, ensuring that as many voices as possible across Plymouth have an opportunity to help shape our work.”

In addition, former Chief Crown Prosecutor for NW England, Nazir Afzal OBE, will be working with the Commission as an independent advisor, bringing expertise from his 24 year career prosecuting the most high profile cases in the country and advising on many others.

He has led nationally on several legal topics including Violence against Women & Girls, child sexual abuse, and honour based violence. His prosecutions of the “Rochdale grooming gang” and hundreds of others were ground-breaking and drove the work that has changed the landscape of child protection.

Over the next three months the Commission will aim to shine a spotlight on the national issue of violence against women and girls and to understand more about the issue for those living in Plymouth.

To do this, the Commission will work:

· To take a proactive stance to better understanding a wide range of views and experiences, and consider what more needs to be done to tackle the issue.

· To improve the perception, and the lived experience of women and girls that Plymouth is a safe city.

· To promote a better understanding of the causes and means of addressing male violence against women and girls.

· To provide impetus for key partners and the private sector to review their contribution to tackling VAWG in the city.

· To take the opportunity to revisit and revise local policies if appropriate, including the Public Health approach to addressing VAWG, and to identify and seek to influence any areas of national policy that need revising.

· To review existing partnership arrangements in the city to make sure there is a clear focus and tangible action on addressing VAWG, including its wider impact on the families and children of victims and abusers.

· To ensure there is strong and visible leadership on VAWG for the city to drive through the recommendations identified by the Commission, and to be the champion for change.

As part of the work of the Commission a full engagement programme will be launched, inviting local organisations who work with female victims of violence and residents across the city to hear more about their experiences and their recommendations about what more needs to be done.

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