A radical new approach to tackling violence against women and young girls has been launched by Liverpool’s first female Mayor.
Among the aims of the three-year strategy are:
- Ensuring that demand for services is better met
- For women and girls to feel confident in calling out and challenging inappropriate behaviour,
- A robust and consistent approach to raising awareness and taking action in schools.
It follows three stages of rigorous consultation to engage various sectors and social groups across Liverpool, including young girls and students who shared their experiences in and out of school, as well as organisations involved in supporting those affected.
There are 250,000 women in Liverpool and it is estimated that 30 per cent of women and girls experience violence in some form in their lifetime.
Between October 2021 and September 2022, Merseyside Police were called out to 14,935 domestic abuse incidents, an average of 1,245 per month. This resulted in 12,287 recorded crimes, an average of 1,024 per month.
The 28 page strategy outlines five priority ambitions:
- Response to victim survivors – including making sure there is sufficient provision, a robust and consistent approach to increased awareness raising and action in schools, improved confidence in the services offered, and for women and girls to be confident they can travel safely on public transport and report issues if they arise.
- Response to perpetrators – including sufficient community-based perpetrator programmes and robust evaluation and scrutiny to measure their impact.
- Sustainable funding – a focus on ensuring demand is better met, and for voluntary and community sector organisations to have flexibility so their core costs are met.
- Changing the narrative – for women and girls be able to feel safe in calling out and challenging victim shaming, misogyny and inappropriate behaviour from boys and men; campaigning to have misogyny categorised as a hate crime, and for ‘low-level’ behaviours to be treated the same as high-level offences
- Governance and accountability – clarity of decision-making, reporting and oversight of violence against women and girls within the council and how transparency is achieved, and a clear process for any feedback or concerns to be escalated
In addition to the strategy, Liverpool City Council, together with Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell, has secured £846k from the Home Office for the Safer Streets Liverpool project which has seen an increased uniformed police presence around transport hubs and on key bus routes, more CCTV, help point and a text message system to report concerns.
Last year, a five year funding package was announced to support survivors of sexual violence by Merseyside’s Police Commissioner in partnership with local councils including Liverpool, and the NHS.
Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, said, “I am proud to launch Liverpool City Council’s new strategy which I believe has the power to be transformative for thousands of women and girls across Liverpool.
“Violence against women and girls, by its very nature, can be more nuanced and complicated than other crimes. Often perpetrators are known by their victims and it takes real courage for them to come forward.
“It also takes highly skilled, strong and compassionate people working in the field to ensure that victims and families are sufficiently supported, and here in Liverpool we are very lucky to have incredible agencies working at a grassroots level.
“This strategy will build on the fantastic work of existing organisations to tackle the issues for victims and their families. I am determined to bring about change for the thousands of women and girls who right now, are living in fear and are at risk of violence in our city. We have to be their voice and act now – and I believe this strategy is the first step.”
Paula Nolan, Chief Executive of Liverpool Domestic Abuse Service, said, “We were delighted to be involved in putting together this strategy. We wanted to take part because we know how passionate Mayor Joanne is about tackling the issue and making a difference.
“We see hundreds of women every year who are all affected by VAWG. We know what services that they want because they tell us, so it was great to be able to input into the strategy in a very positive way.
“I hope this strategy means women and girls will feel and be safer. I hope it means all services are trained to respond effectively to women and girls impacted by violence and abuse and that people are made aware of how their behaviour, sexist attitudes and misogyny impacts women and girls.”