Suffolk Cements Commitment to Keeping Its Communities Safe
A new strategy outlining how Suffolk will address Violence Against Women and Girls has been published today, with this receiving the full support of organisations across the county.
The strategy has been prepared collaboratively by the Safer Stronger Communities Board (SSCB), consisting of representatives from Suffolk County Council, district and borough councils, the police, Suffolk’s Police & Crime Commissioner, community safety partnerships, health and probation services, the Norfolk & Suffolk Criminal Justice Board and Suffolk Safeguarding Partnership.
All board members hold a shared ambition to tackle the incredibly important issue of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) which includes, but is not limited to, domestic abuse, sexual violence, stalking, coercive and controlling behaviour, and revenge porn, all of which have a devastating impact on victim-survivors, families, and communities.
One domestic abuse survivor said: “Unless you have been in this predicament, I don’t think you can fully comprehend how life changing the whole experience is and how necessary the support system is.”
Much work has been done on preventing VAWG since the launch of the county’s first strategy in 2018, which led to the establishment of Suffolk’s 24/7 domestic abuse helpline, additional accommodation for survivors and the creation of a Domestic Abuse Perpetrators Unit to help offenders address and alter their behaviour.
However, with recent figures showing an increase in sexual offences and domestic violence nationally, the board recognises the need to continue to drive forward positive change through effective partnership working.
Suffolk’s new VAWG Strategy outlines how this will be achieved in the county, with four key objectives – prevention, supporting victims, pursuing perpetrators, and strengthening the system – forming the basis for its approach.
Relevant strategies, policies, and legislation, including the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 and the police and Government’s response to VAWG, have also been reflected to enable Suffolk to complement the national effort.
In addition, the strategy will be accompanied by an action plan for 2022–2025 to help ensure meaningful activity. This has been informed by members of the board, local charities, and domestic abuse survivors, who praised the system for enabling them to co-create proposals and have their say.
To support the board in implementing both the strategy and action plan, Suffolk County Council has contributed £350,000 towards this.
Cllr Andrew Reid, Chair of the Safer Stronger Communities Board and Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Public Protection and Communities, commented: “Although Suffolk remains a safe place to live and work for many, crimes against women and girls are still happening daily, with these often underpinned by outdated attitudes and prejudice.
“Whilst much work has already been done to tackle this horrific behaviour, we will not stop until every woman and girl in Suffolk feels safe in their community or at home.
“I welcome the new Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy to help achieve this aim and would like to thank all those who have been involved in its creation, especially the survivors who have been instrumental in helping us to shape proposals to stop others from being victims of this devastating abuse in future.
“It’s great news that the strategy will also be supported by significant funding from our council – cementing our continued commitment to protecting our communities.”
Whilst the strategy is focused primarily on preventing VAWG, due to these crimes often disproportionately affecting this gender, work will still be undertaken to support men and boys, as well as those that are transgender, non-binary or gender non-conforming.
The strategy is available to view online here: www.suffolk.gov.uk/assets/community-and-safety/Communities/Voilence-Against-Women-and-Girls-Strategy-2022-25.pdf.