Event – Webinar – Improving the Safety of Women & Girls: Delivering Structural Changes to Empower Women, Reduce Violence & Increase Prosecutions

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Overview

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that for the year ending September 2021, sexual offences recorded by the police were the highest on record, a 12% increase from the previous year, whilst a survey in June 2021 revealed that 32% of women over 16 had experienced at least one form of harassment in the previous 12 months. The outpouring of testimonies in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard, sparked calls for urgent change, starting a conversation which was galvanised by further killings, including those of Sabina Nessa and Gracie Spinks. Issues of institutionalised misogyny and declining conviction rates have left women and girls feeling unsafe in public spaces, with 89% of those who had experienced harassment reporting feeling ‘very or fairly unsafe’ walking on their own after dark. 

In July 2021, the Home Office published their VAWG strategy, with the aim of boosting support for victims and survivors, increasing the number of perpetrators brought to justice, and ultimately reducing the prevalence of VAWG. Since publication, the Government has implemented a number of measures, including the appointment of a National Policing Lead for Tackling VAWG, and the launch of a pilot tool, StreetSafe, enabling the public to report areas in which they feel unsafe. There has also been increased investment in this area, with funding for 79 local projects and initiatives to improve the safety of women in public spaces across England & Wales totalling more than £27.7 million. In addition to these measures, the Government has sought to increase protection and recognition of survivors and victims through the enactment of the Domestic Abuse Act 2022 and the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, the latter creating tougher sentences for perpetrators. The Home Office has also recently launched a new public campaign, ‘enough’, aimed at preventing VAWG by shaping the attitudes that normalise such abuse.

However, for many, these measures largely fail to go beyond the surface of the problem, offering no more than a ‘sticking plaster solution’ for an issue which is systemic in nature, with many warning that measures which focus on street lighting and police presence do little to eradicate the ‘locker room’ culture which has provided a breeding ground for misogyny. Organisations such as End Violence Against Women (EVAW), alongside MPs including Jess Phillips, have also drawn attention to the persisting issues facing women who report rape and sexual assault, arguing that recent measures have not gone far enough to improve the treatment of these issues in the criminal justice system, despite rising numbers of reports. In the wake of the Independent Office for Police Conduct’s February 2022 report into Met Police conduct, which revealed a culture of institutionalised misogyny and racism, police forces across the UK have also faced significant pressure to reform, with EVAW calling for a radical overhaul of the system. 

This symposium is, therefore, an invaluable opportunity to discuss and evaluate strategies for widespread structural change. Delegates will discuss methods to prevent VAWG, support and protect victims and survivors, and increase the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in dealing with these cases.

Programme

  • Examine the current legislative framework for tackling violence against women and girls and discuss opportunities for further legislative reform
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the government’s VAWG strategy, and the extent to which this is sufficient in targeting the issue
  • Discuss steps to improve safety on UK streets and public spaces
  • Understand why certain crimes such as rape have such low prosecution rates and how that can be improved
  • Explore how to improve trust in the criminal justice system to ensure that women are empowered to report VAWG
  • Identify and examine the fundamental causes of violence against women and girls, and raise awareness of the need to target institutionalised misogyny
  • Consider opportunities for education programs to target and discourage misogyny
  • Address intersectionalities and understand how to support the most vulnerable groups
  • Explore how to improve information sharing across agencies to improve police coordination in preventing and combating VAWG
  • Evaluate the suitability of proposed changes to standards, behaviours and practices within policing
  • Share best practices of successful campaigns raising awareness and preventing gender-based violence through education

Who Should Attend?

  • Domestic Violence Coordinators
  • Police Authorities
  • Mental Health Professionals
  • Families Services Officers
  • Health Service Professionals
  • Social Care Professionals
  • Victim Support Representatives
  • LGBT Rights Associations
  • Anti-Social Behaviour Coordinators
  • Community Support Officers
  • Social Workers and Social Services Officers
  • Criminal Justice Practitioners
  • Legal Professionals
  • Local Authority Officers & Councillors
  • Equality and Diversity Practitioners
  • Academics and Researchers
  • Employers’ Associations
  • Equal Opportunity Agencies
  • Women’s Lobbyist Groups
  • Women’s NGOs Networks
  • National Coordinators on Gender Equality and Equal Opportunities
  • Social Exclusion Officers
  • Human Rights Professionals
  • Disability Forums and Associations
  • Women Refugees and Advice Centres

Register your place here.

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