Kim McGuinness is calling for views to shape a new Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) action plan for the Northumbria Police force area.

Determined plans to tackle crimes such as domestic abuse and sexual violence are being drawn up for the Northumbria Police force area. Police Commissioner Kim McGuinness has launched a public consultation inviting local people to share their concerns, experiences and ideas to help shape plans.

With the numbers of violence against women and girls-related reports to police increasing each year, the need to address the violence, abuse and misogyny that’s evident in Northumbria and beyond, couldn’t be more important for PCC Kim McGuinness.

As a leading local campaigner around the treatment of women and girls, the Commissioner says when it comes to the scale of the problem the numbers speak for themselves and that worryingly the abuse our police know about, just like other forces, is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg. It is estimated that only 15% of sexual offences are reported to the police.

Figures for the Northumbria Police force area reveal:

  • 42 domestic homicides since 2011
  • 4,438 sexual assaults reported in Northumbria in 2019/20 alone
  • Nationally, 1 in 3 women and girls will experience some form of sexual abuse in their lifetime.

Launching a public consultation to inform plans that will set out ways of working together to end violence and abuse of women and girls, PCC Kim McGuinness, said: “Not only as your Police and Crime Commissioner, but as a woman, I am passionate about fighting for a North East where our girls and women are safe and free from abuse, violence and inequality.

“I’m grateful to be in a position where I can drive real change forward, and I know there are many others across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear who share this aim – we want to lead the way with this. From service specialists and police officers, right through to young girls and their mams who know these crimes disproportionately affect them – people want violence against women and girls to end once and for all.”

Explaining the aims of the consultation that is underway, Kim said: “I’m all for open and honest conversation around this. I’m here to listen and I’m so appreciative of anyone who responds – whether that’s sharing their experiences or challenging for improvement. Together, I want to look at issues that just aren’t going away and pave a way forward.

“Northumbria Police, thankfully, is one of the best in its approach to policing violence against women and girls but we don’t always get things right and the challenge remains a huge one. I know there are so many people and organisations across our region who are full of determination to work together to prevent and tackle this violence and abuse and make our region safer for women and girls. From changing behaviours to enhancing support and improving prosecutions, there’s a lot that we need to get right and this plan will ultimately set out how we intend to do so.”

The Violence Against Women and Girls strategy will focus on support for victims, preventing abuse and violence in the first place, working with perpetrators and system change. The consultation survey can be completed here.

VAWG is rooted in the inequality of women and girls and is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men against women and girls – in the year ending March 2020 alone, there were an estimated 618,000 female victims (aged 16-74) and 155,000 male victims of sexual assault (including attempts). 98.3% of perpetrators were male.

However, men and boys can also be victims of violence and abuse, and women can perpetrate abuse. While the term ‘violence against women and girls’ is used, this refers to all victims of any of these offences. I am committed to tackling VAWG crimes in any form and ensuring support for all victims, regardless of sex or gender.

If you’ve witnessed or been the victim of crime, help and support is available from the Northumbria Victim and Witness Service on 0800 011 3116.