Commissioner’s response to HMICFRS report: ‘Police Engagement with Women and Girls: Final Inspection Report’

I welcome Surrey Police’s involvement as one of the four forces included in this inspection. I am encouraged by the force’s strategy to tackle Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), which recognises impact of coercive and controlling behaviour and the importance of ensuring policy and practice is informed by those with lived experience. Surrey’s partnership DA Strategy 2018-23 is based on Women’s Aid Change that Lasts approach, for which we were a national pilot site and the VAWG strategy for Surrey Police continues to build on recognised best practice.

I have asked the Chief Constable for his response, particular in relation to the recommendations made in the report. His response is as follows:

We welcome the HMICFRS’s 2021 report on the Inspection on Police Engagement with Women and Girls. As one of the four police forces inspected we welcomed a review of our new approach and have benefitted from feedback and views on our early work on our Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy. Surrey Police took an early innovative approach to create a new VAWG strategy with our wider partnership including outreach services, the local authority and OPCC as well as community groups. This creates a strategic framework over several areas with an engendered focus including domestic abuse, rape and serious sexual offences, peer on peer abuse in schools and Harmful Traditional Practices such as so-called honour based abuse. The intention of the framework is to create a whole-system approach and evolve our focus towards an engendered one informed by survivors and those with lived experience. This response covers the three recommendation areas in the HMICFRS Inspection report.

The Chief Constable has previously detailed the actions being taken against each recommendation, included in my response to the interim report from HMICFRS in July.

With a dedication to make the future safer, I am making violence against women and girls (VAWG) a specific priority in my police and crime plan. Recognising that tackling VAWG is not solely a policing responsibility, I will use my convening power to work with all partners to increase safety in Surrey.

We each have a role in developing a society where this crime is no longer tolerated and young people can grow up healthy and happy, with aspirations and values that help them to recognise what’s acceptable and what’s not.

I am encouraged by the new VAWG strategy developed by Surrey Police through a partnership approach, with the specialist women and girl’s sector and women with cultural competence playing a crucial role in the progress made.

I will closely scrutinise the police to monitor the impact of changes it makes in its approach to VAWG. I believe the relentless focus on perpetrators will benefit from investment in specialist interventions by my office which offer perpetrators the opportunity to change their behaviour, or feel the full force of the law if they do not.

I will continue to protect victims through the commissioning of specialist gender and trauma-informed services and I am committed to supporting Surrey Police in developing trauma-informed practice and principles across its work.

Lisa Townsend, Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey
October 2021