Statement – Anti-violence against women and girls (VAWG) project

Following the wide debate around the safety of women and girls in our communities, the Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend commissioned an independent project earlier this year that will focus on improving working practices within Surrey Police.

The Commissioner has contracted an organisation called Victim Focus to begin an extensive programme of work within the Force that will take place over the next two years.

This will involve a series of projects aimed at focusing on continuing to build on the anti-Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) culture of the Force and working with officers and staff for long-term positive change.

The aim is to be truly trauma-informed, and challenge victim blaming, misogyny, sexism and racism – whilst recognising the journey the force is on, what has gone before and the progress that has been made.

The Victim Focus team will undertake all the research, interviewing officers and staff and deliver training across the organisation with the expectation that results should be seen across Force performance in months and years to come.

Victim Focus was founded in 2017 and has a national team of academics and professionals who have worked with organisations across the country including a number of other police forces and PCC offices.

The Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend said: “This is the first time a project of this kind has been carried out within Surrey Police and I see this as one of the most important pieces of work that will be undertaken during my tenure as Commissioner.

“Policing is at a critical juncture where forces across the country are seeking to rebuild the trust and confidence of our communities. We saw an outpouring of grief and anger following the recent high-profile murders of a number of women, including the tragic death of Sarah Everard at the hands of a serving police officer.

“The report published by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) only two weeks ago highlighted that police forces still have more to do to tackle misogynistic and predatory behaviour in their ranks.

“In Surrey, the Force has made great strides in tackling these issues and actively encouraging officers and staff to call out such behaviour.

“But this is too important to get wrong which is why I believe this project is vital not only for members of the public, but also for the female workforce, who must feel safe and supported in their roles.

“Tackling violence against women and girls is one of the key priorities in my Police and Crime Plan – in order to achieve this effectively we must ensure that as a police force we have a culture that not only we are proud of, but our communities too.”

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