SafeLives welcome London Mayor’s VAWG Strategy 2022-2025

We welcome the Mayor of London’s new strategy on Violence Against Women and Girls published this week and look forward to working with the Mayor’s Office to drive this work forward. A “whole society” approach to tackling VAWG, one which expands well beyond a criminal justice focus, aligns closely with SafeLives ‘Whole Picture’ approach to ending abuse.

Only one in five survivors of domestic abuse calls the police. We welcome the commitment to provide a full spectrum of responses to those who use violence and abuse against girls and women that goes beyond solely criminal justice. We need a whole system wraparound which uses all tools and powers to stop someone as soon as possible, being proportionate and creative.

We are delighted to see the ‘successful expansion’ of Drive referenced, with a pledge to build on this work and continue to invest in perpetrator behaviour change programmes. In 2021-22 more than 200 high risk perpetrators across the UK were referred to the Drive programme.

We were also encouraged by renewed commitment to victim services that serve survivors – ensuring everyone who needs a service is receiving it, and receiving a service suitable for their identity and situation. Ranging from women who may have just arrived in the country, across all protected characteristics.

Other very welcome aspects include:

  • Recommitment to advocating for Sistah Space’s Valerie’s Law -which seeks to provide specialist training to improve the response for Black African and Caribbean survivors of abuse. A blueprint for this could be created in London, giving momentum for national adoption.
  • Working to build on the success of ‘DA Matters’ training, developed by SafeLives and the College of Policing, and to ensure wider, ongoing, quality training across all forms of VAWG. Assurances that the training will be trauma-informed, culturally competent and recognise the intersectional experiences of the victim, is crucial to this work.
  • Accountability within the Metropolitan Police Service. It is a big task to restore trust in male-dominated institutions that have repeatedly let women and girls down, particularly Black women and girls. The proportion of men across the police workforce is very significant. If officers and staff are able to think about their role as individual men – fathers, sons, brothers – as well as first responders, it will be valuable in shifting culture inside a force, and also within society.
  • Tackling online radicalisation into incel ideology and misogyny. This will require hotspotting those spaces where the radicalisation of men into dangerous, active misogyny is happening.
  • These spaces are a threat not because girls and women are in them, but because a radicalisation process is focused on making girls and women into the enemy, and into legitimate targets for violent or abusive action.

Violence against women and girls is an epidemic. It will require a whole society response and systemic reset to stop this epidemic in its tracks. It isn’t just about criminal justice. This strategy is a step forward.  The time to act is now. We cannot wait any longer.

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VAWG strategy: response

SafeLives' response to the government’s consultation on its Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy 2021.