Police chiefs have released the first-ever national threat assessment specifically addressing crimes that pose significant danger to women and girls, including domestic abuse.  

This is known as the ‘Strategic Threat and Risk Assessment of Violence Against Women and Girls’ and follows the announcement in February 2023 that violence against women and girls (VAWG) would be included as part of the strategic policing requirement, recognising it as a national threat alongside terrorism and serious organised crime.

What are the aims of the Strategic Threat and Risk Assessment of Violence Against Women and Girls? 

  • Help the police to understand what contributes to VAWG as a national threat 

  • Support policing leads and local forces with insights so they can make informed strategic plans and decisions 

  • Identify knowledge gaps so police and their partners know where to improve 

What are the findings of the assessment? 

The key VAWG threats were identified as domestic abuse, rape and serious sexual offences, child sexual abuse and exploitation, and tech enabled VAWG. 

Top-level findings include: 

  1. VAWG accounts for at least 15.8% of all recorded crime and is a significant contributor to demand on policing (statistics from 1 October 2021 - 31 March 2022) 

  2. Between October 2021 and March 2022, there were at least 507,827 recorded offences against women and girls in England and Wales. This means that on average, the police recorded nearly 117 crimes per hour or around two crimes per minute. 

  3. Many VAWG crimes go unreported. The Crime Survey for England and Wales consistently shows that many women and girls experience VAWG, such as sexual assault, stalking, and harassment, but they do not report these incidents to the police. There are specific barriers to reporting, particularly for marginalised communities. 

How will police better respond to VAWG? 

The police aim to: 

  • Improve VAWG investigations by improving skills of staff and officers and taking care of their well-being 

  • Improve pursuit of perpetrators, particularly repeat and predatory offenders and those who cause serious harm 

  • Make sure they have the right tools to handle digital forensic evidence and deal with crimes that happen online 

  • Collaborate with others to prevent VAWG and find out more about the problem by collecting and studying data and intelligence 

Priority intelligence gaps identified include: 

  • How much VAWG is reported to other statutory agencies besides the police and the kind of VAWG incidents they deal with 

  • VAWG in Black and minoritised communities and the response from police and other organisations 

  • How to tackle offences by considering the relationship between VAWG offending and other types of crimes 

  • How and where VAWG happens online – the incoming Online Safety Bill seeks to address some of the challenges 

  • How much VAWG is reported to other statutory agencies besides the police and the kind of VAWG incidents they deal with 

What does this mean for employers tackling domestic abuse? 

The report recognises that domestic abuse is a key contributor to VAWG, with 447,431 domestic abuse flagged offences for all genders recorded in a six-month period across England and Wales. In addition to the VAWG threat level for domestic abuse increasing, the report notes that sexual offences have seen a sharp increase since 2013 as well as a rise in stalking and harassment offences.  

The assessment also notes that cuts in funding to support services, particularly during a cost-of-living crisis, will affect victim/survivors who feel unable to report to the police. Employers can have an important impact in supporting such victim/survivors: you can find out more in our news story

After several high-profile media stories reporting the failure of the police to tackle VAWG adequately, this assessment is a welcome step towards improving the policing response. However, the report makes clear that a society-wide and joined-up response to VAWG is necessary to reduce these crimes. 

The role of employers in preventing and tackling domestic abuse is more important than ever. If you are not already a member of EIDA then join us today to begin your journey in taking effective action on domestic abuse or spread the word by sharing our Membership page with other organisations in your sector. 

This assessment will be reviewed annually with improved data and insights from partners. Ensure you subscribe to EIDA news to receive all relevant updates that impact employers. 

Download the Strategic Threat and Risk Assessment of Violence Against Women and Girls here 

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