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£50 million awarded through the Safer Street Fund to tackle violence against women and girls and make streets safer.
£50 million of new funding will be given to communities across England and Wales to make the streets safer for all, the Home Secretary announced on Monday 25 July.
The money will go to police forces, local authorities, British Transport Police and eligible community groups across England and Wales to prevent violence against women and girls in public, neighbourhood crime and anti-social behaviour.
These projects will be able to roll out extra CCTV and streetlighting in their communities and expand work to change attitudes and behaviours and prevent these crimes happening in the first place.
Northamptonshire, Humberside and Nottinghamshire PCCs are just some of the organisations which have already received funding through previous rounds. The money has been spent on home security, community outreach and initiatives such as football and boxing, to divert young people from crime.
This is the fourth round of funding from the Safer Street Fund and takes the total awarded through this fund and the Safety of Women at Night Fund to £125 million.
Home Secretary, Priti Patel said: “It has been one year since I launched our dedicated violence against women and girls strategy and in that year I have overseen incredible work to support victims, prevent violence against women and girls, protect citizens and deliver justice.
“Our essential work with specialist groups is delivering practical support and change for women and girls across our communities and the Safer Streets Fund continues to make a difference to the safety of women and girls at a community level.”
This marks one year since the publication of the Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy. Since publishing the strategy, the government has delivered a number of key commitments to help ensure that women and girls are safe everywhere – at home, online, at work and in public spaces.
The Safer Streets Fund allows forces and local authorities to invest in transformative crime prevention initiatives.
The latest round of the fund is the first to accept bids from eligible civil society organisations, and among the successful bidders for this round is Her Centre, a London-based charity which offers free and confidential advocacy, counselling, advice and training relating to domestic abuse, rape and sexual abuse and other issues that affect women.
Her Centre has been awarded £140,000 to deliver support to victims of sexual harassment, assault, rape, and stalking so that they recover confidence to live lives free of fear. Her Centre will also use the funding to work to help prevent acts of violence against women through active bystander training and engagement with young people around understanding and responding to violence against women and girls in areas particularly affected by these issues.
CEO of Her Centre, Stacy Smith said: “Her Centre want to see more focus on making men stop harassing and threatening women. We are pleased that this grant allows us to take forward work to educate the community in simple ways they can be active bystanders so that men who are abusive and violent become the target of attention, rather than saying women have to keep themselves safe. These attitudes should be the outliers and not the norm.”
Round Three of the Fund had a particular focus on helping to combat violence against women and girls, and £25 million was allocated to 57 projects across England and Wales through this round.
The government has also invested £5 million through the Safety of Women at Night Fund, which supported 22 projects piloting initiatives to improve the safety of women in public spaces at night, including in the night-time economy.
Marking one year since the publication of the VAWG Strategy, the government is also announcing the launch of a targeted consultation on whether there should be a new offence for public sexual harassment. Experts from a range of sectors, including charities, the police, law, education and transport, are invited to share their views on whether a new specific offence would help to tackle this issue.
This follows the VAWG Strategy’s Call for Evidence which saw over 180,000 responses, the majority from the public, and complements other work the government is undertaking to tackle public sexual harassment, such as new police guidance and forthcoming new guidance for prosecutors to make sure existing laws are implemented, and the ‘Enough’ behaviour change campaign.
The Tackling VAWG strategy made clear that in addition to supporting victims, we must also prevent crimes being committed in the first place.
The Home Office has awarded over £25 million over the last two years to Police and Crime Commissioners to support increasing the availability of interventions for domestic abuse and stalking perpetrators. These interventions aim to reduce the risk posed by perpetrators and hold them to account, including through group or individual behaviour change programmes.
The Early Awareness Stalking Intervention programme, overseen by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner and funded by the Home Office, is one of the first attempt of its kind in England and Wales to deliver rehabilitative treatment for stalkers, which aims to improve victim/survivor safety.
West Midlands Victims’ Commissioner, Nicky Brennan, said: “There is no excuse for abuse of any kind. Reducing incidence of crime is paramount and that’s why we are working hard on prevention and early intervention in the West Midlands, particularly in tackling violence against women and girls.
“That is why we partnered with West Midlands Police, Midlands Psychology Services, Black Country Women’s Aid, The Alice Ruggles Trust and the University of Derby to pilot and evaluate the Early Awareness Stalking Intervention across the whole West Midlands, through funding from the 2021 Home Office Perpetrator Fund.
“Early results are promising and we have already learnt a lot and are looking forward to a full evaluation early next year.”
In order to support victims of non-consensual intimate image sharing, a deeply serious and harmful issue, the Home Office increased its funding to the Revenge Porn Helpline to £120,000 in the 2021/2 financial year. The Helpline supports victims of non-consensual intimate image sharing by providing confidential support and advice, helping to report and remove content from the internet, offering advice and support on reporting crimes to the police and providing referrals for specialist and longer-term support for victims.
This financial year, the Home Office is increasing this funding to a further £150,000, to ensure the Helpline can continue to provide expert support to victims of intimate image abuse.
Revenge Porn Helpline Manager, Sophie Mortimer said: “The Tackling VAWG Strategy has given welcome focus on providing substantial help and support to people affected by violence against women and girls.
“The additional funding that the Revenge Porn Helpline received during the pandemic, consolidated under the new strategy, gave us the opportunity to provide meaningful, effective help to people affected by intimate image abuse. The helpline sees a wide range of complex behaviours requiring expert practitioners to give direct support and carry out the reporting and removal of intimate images shared without consent. This is difficult and time-consuming work, but it has achieved, to date, the removal of over 260,000 individual pieces of content on behalf of nearly 15,000 people.”
This support for victims of intimate image abuse comes alongside action through the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 to strengthen the law in this area to ensure those who threaten to share intimate images without consent and with an intent to cause distress are held to account and face justice for their actions.
The government is also pleased to announce the ratification of the Istanbul Convention.
In the Tackling VAWG Strategy, the government committed to ratifying The Council of Europe Convention on Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, commonly known as the Istanbul Convention. The Convention is a gold standard international charter for the protection of women and girls, and since signing it in 2012, the government has worked to significantly strengthen its legislative framework and introduce a wide range of tools to better protect victims.
Our measures to protect women and girls from violence are some of the most robust in the world, and in some respects go further than the Convention requires.
The ratification sends a strong signal that the UK continues to treat violence against women and girls with the utmost seriousness and will help us to continue the lead the way in tackling these terrible crimes.
Having taken a hard and honest look at how the entire criminal justice system leads with rape through the Rape Review, the Home Office is committed to funding Operation Soteria, a programme to transform the way that rape investigations are handled and progressed, with a focus on the suspect rather than the victim. After initially being taken forward in five forces, the government announced earlier this year that an additional 14 forces will be taking part in Operation Soteria.
This work will inform a new national operating model for the investigation of rape cases which will be available for all forces from June 2023. The key findings from the programme to date were published in the Rape Review Progress Update on 16 June. It is encouraging that we are seeing more victims coming forward to report crimes to the police, more referrals from the police to the CPS and an increase in the volume of suspects charged.
In March 2022, we launched our nationwide, multi-year ‘Enough’ communication campaign across England and Wales. With a television advert, billboards, digital content and a comprehensive campaign website, the campaign aims to target and challenge the harmful behaviours that exist within wider society, educate young people about healthy relationships and consent, and ensure victims can recognise abuse and receive support.