Our commitment to tackling violence against women and girls
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Over the past 12 months South Wales Police has introduced a series of new measures as part of its long-standing commitment to tackling violence against women and girls.
By working with a range of partner organisations, we have continued to target resources towards clear routes to safety for victims, supporting and empowering survivors and investing in evidence-based interventions that tackle root causes, addressing the harmful attitudes and behaviours that result in violence and abuse.
South Wales Police has become a pilot force for Operation Soteria which aims to transform the way in which rape and serious sexual offences are investigated. The pilot has already committed to ensuring that no victim of rape will be without a mobile phone for more than 24 hours – this is being achieved by investing in new technology which speeds up mobile phone examinations which are often crucial to obtaining evidence for successful prosecutions.
A number of practical measures and operations to prevent incidents taking place and to allow people to feel safer in their communities have also been introduced. These include:
Expanding the South Wales Police Safety Bus project supporting vulnerable people in the night-time economy;
Establishing Street Help Points – intercoms at three key locations in Cardiff to provide residents with direct access to the police and emergency workers when they feel threatened or unsafe;
Installing new street-based CCTV cameras in key locations across Cardiff and Bridgend and updating lighting in targeted underpasses;
Expanding the number of ‘Safe Places’ where people can seek help and refuge from specially trained staff if they feel threatened or intimidated;
Training for pub, club and restaurant staff and taxi drivers in Merthyr Tydfil on how to spot end help people in vulnerable situations, in addition to upgraded CCTV in the town centre;
Safety surveys carried out in Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot with the feedback shaping the policing response to violence against women and girls;
Successful bid to the Safety of Women at Night Fund, to promote the safety of women within the night-time economy in Swansea, including providing vulnerability training for all staff working in the night-time economy to establish safe spaces;
Operations in Swansea city centre where specialist police officers carry out patrols to identify anyone who may be displaying signs of concerning or predatory behaviour and those who may be vulnerable– 62 lone females were identified as being vulnerable and safeguarded in addition to 41 males and 20 couples being stopped, resulting in nine being separated.
As part of the UK Government’s strategy to tackle violence against women and girls, South Wales Police has also promoted a new online tool called StreetSafe, which allows people to pin-point locations where they have felt unsafe and to identify why that location made them feel unsafe. Using that information we can then direct our patrols and, with partners, make improvements to infrastructure such as lighting and CCTV.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Lewis, who is the force’s lead on violence against women and girls, said:
“Everyone has the right to be safe in their home and their community but it’s equally important for people to feel safe while going about their everyday business in our town and city centres.
“This is why, alongside the support we have in place for victims of crime and a commitment to investigate all forms of violence and abuse, it is important that we do everything we can to prevent incidents taking place on our streets and have measures in place by working with local authorities and other partners to allow people to feel safe.
“We know that there is widespread concern about public safety, particularly felt by women and girls, and we have put a lot of effort into understanding their concerns through various online reporting tools and surveys to listen and respond by targeting our patrols and working with partners to address them.
“There has been a huge amount of effort and commitment to tackle these important issues and while we have achieved a lot over the past 12 months, there is still more work to do and a commitment to making our communities as safe as they can be.”
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Emma Wools said:
“I am extremely pleased to see the number of initiatives taking place across South Wales, many of which have been funded thanks to our successful bids to the Home Office Safer Streets Fund.
“These grants are an endorsement of our approach to partnership working. We have worked closely with the councils and other partners to identify in detail the drivers of local problems and how best we can tackle them together.
“This is being invested in making the streets safer for women and girls. Preventing violence against women and girls has always been a specific priority for the Commissioner and his team and while we have done a lot to tackle the issue in South Wales, it remains one of the biggest problems we face, and we must always strive to do more if we are to significantly reduce the intimidation and harassment experienced by women and girls across our communities.
“Alongside the operational response of police officers, working in partnership our focus is both on immediate benefits from practical measures like CCTV and physical improvements to the environment and to achieve sustainable long-term improvements to create safe, confident and resilient communities.”