There has been a significant increase in reports of violence against women and girls (VAWG) in London – a 15% rise in reports of domestic offences from 2014-17, and a 16% increase in reports of rape in the last year alone.
While it can be seen as a positive that so many survivors are finding the courage to come forward and report, the numbers are a stark reminder of the scale of the problem that still faces us – especially as we know that the majority of victims still do not report incidents.
VAWG has a huge impact on our communities in London and brings a great deal of harm primarily to the direct victims, but also to their support groups and wider society. Tackling VAWG is a key priority for the capital – the Police and Crime Plan sets this out and the Mayor will be publishing a refreshed VAWG strategy for London in November.
As the Executive Member for Crime and Public Protection, I will work to ensure that this strategy reflects the needs of communities across London and understands the tools that are needed for local boroughs to both tackle VAWG and deal with its consequences.
I will also be co-chairing London’s VAWG board for the coming year alongside Joan Smith. It is essential that there is this representation from London boroughs at a strategic level at City Hall, driving forward the refreshed strategy and ensuring that it delivers on its commitments.
Local authorities have a really important role in tackling VAWG on a community level, and helping to make communities, and individual women and girls, safer. In Lambeth, we have ensured that addressing VAWG remains a key priority for the council; to make Lambeth a borough in which residents do not have to be fearful of, or experience, gender based violence.
Despite the challenging financial context, we have committed to fund high quality specialist VAWG services in Lambeth, such as the Gaia Centre. This was one of the first fully integrated VAWG services in England and means that all victims of VAWG, both women and men, can use the centre as a first point of contact and can access a wide range of services under one roof. In its first four years, the centre has received over 6,500 new referrals for victims, showing the extent of the need for VAWG services in our communities.
The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) are now in consultation regarding the VAWG strategy refresh and I will be hosting a special London Councils Member event on October 30th, giving members the opportunity to hear from Deputy Mayor Sophie Linden about the development of the refreshed VAWG strategy and to input from a borough perspective.
I would like to hear from you about your concerns around VAWG; please contact us so we can best give a voice to Londoners.