A new plan that champions a public health approach to ending violence against women and girls has been unveiled today by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan on a visit to Waltham Forest.
While there the Mayor met a beautician and visited a dry cleaners and library to see first-hand the training and education being delivered to men about VAWG to help them become more active allies.
Cafes, libraries, dry cleaners, pubs, beauticians, gyms and other everyday venues across London are being encouraged to be part of the Mayor’s ‘whole society’ approach to tackling violence against women and girls. The holistic approach will see close to £18m of additional investment from City Hall on specialist services to improve support for victims and survivors, tackle the behaviour of perpetrators and better educate the public on the help they can provide.
The Mayor’s newly refreshed strategy recognises that more robust policing or the threat of the criminal justice system alone cannot prevent violence against women and girls. A more innovative approach is needed – one that seeks to understand the underlying drivers of harassment, abuse or violence against women and girls and brings public sector agencies together with communities to address them.
Sadiq’s new strategy will adopt a public health approach – similar to the one pioneered by the Mayor’s Violence Reduction Unit – to preventing and reducing violence against women and girls. It will:
- Place a stronger emphasis on partnership working, prevention and education across a wide range of services in London
- Target the behaviour of those who perpetrate abuse and make sure they are the focus for change
- Invest an additional £17.7m in support services– including a specialised response to support all victims to have equal access to justice and services
- Recognise that violence against women and girls often starts with words, and we all have a responsibility to challenge the behaviour that can lead to violence and women feeling unsafe
- Take action to rebuild trust and confidence in the police and criminal justice system to ensure victims are supported and empowered to get the justice they deserve
As part of the Mayor’s new plan, local authorities, the NHS, night-time venues, high street shops, Transport for London and the transport industry, universities, the police and the criminal justice system will work more closely with support services tackling VAWG to spot the signs and intervene earlier as part of the Mayor’s whole society approach to effectively tackling violence against women and girls.
High street venues across London, including dry cleaners, beauticians and cafes are being urged to sign up to become information points so that victims of violence or those at risk can be directed to support services safely, quickly and discreetly. Civic settings such as libraries are also being encouraged to become disclosure settings where women and girls can seek specialist help. City Hall will also convene a round table discussion next month with partners to determine how the NHS and wider health sector can better tackle VAWG collectively in the capital.2
Sadiq has today also committed an additional £17.7m on top of a previous £100m to continue the provision of specialist support services across London. This will ensure better help and support for all victims of VAWG including migrant victims and those from minority ethnic backgrounds, LGBTQ+ and other marginalised groups.Alongside this, the Mayor’s VRU is investing in a programme to provide intensive training for teachers and staff working with young people in schools through targeted support and mentoring, including guidance on healthy relationships.*
The Mayor has overseen more than £100m in investment in tackling violence against women and girls since he was first elected. This funding is working to save lives, address waiting lists and keep doors open for vital specialist support services for victims. It is also helping to make venues, transport and public spaces in the capital safer for women at night, 1 but it is clear more needs to be done.
Shockingly, a man kills a woman every three days in the UK, with a quarter of women reporting having been a victim of sexual assault, and 71 per cent of all women have experienced some form of sexual harassment in a public space.
The Mayor is adamant that we must not simply respond to male violence against women and girls – we must prevent it. That means focusing on holding the perpetrators of abuse accountable for their actions and for change.
Across London, night-time venues, universities and restaurants are joining the Mayor’s acclaimed ‘have a word’ campaign3 urging men to call out and reject sexism and misogyny, which if left unchecked or unchallenged can lead to abuse and violence towards women and girls. McDonalds, The Roundhouse, Ministry of Sound, the O2, University of Greenwich, and University of London are among leading venues across the capital joining the campaign to push the message that: “Male violence against women and girls starts with words. If you see it happening, have a word with yourself, then your mates” to millions of Londoners after football clubs helped launch the campaign to tackle the appalling attitudes and behaviours that need to change. Partners will help get this message directly to men through messages on mirrors in men’s bathrooms and spaces, encouraging all men to ‘have a word’ with themselves and then their mates.
The ‘have a word’ campaign video has now been viewed more than 14m times, with 65 per cent of the social engagement by men. Since its launch, the campaign has generated global interest and was recently shortlisted for the prestigious Cannes Lion Glass award for change, celebrating culture-shifting creativity. Campaign polling has also shown men who have seen the campaign are more likely to help tackle the issue – 85% of men who have heard of the campaign said they would call out bad behaviour if they saw it.3The campaign complements the campaign running across TfL’s public transport network which aims to send a strong message to offenders that sexual harassment will not be tolerated.
The Mayor is also investing in programmes that are focused on addressing and changing the behaviour of perpetrators of abuse. This includes programmes which deal with the behaviour of those perpetrating domestic abuse, or stalking, as well as launching the first-ever GPS tagging pilot 4 of domestic abuse offenders to quickly identify those who break their license conditions, helping to protect victims and crucially putting the onus on perpetrators to change their behaviour, rather than victims.
The strategy unveiled today also recognises far that too many victims fail to get the justice that they deserve with too many cases falling out of the system before they reach court. The Mayor is clear there must be improvements across all criminal justice services to improve trust and confidence in the policing and prosecution of VAWG. His strategy will therefore see enhanced partnership working with the Met to improve the systems, training of officers – particularly around domestic abuse and rape misconceptions – as well as renewed action to improve the overall culture of policing VAWG to support victims to come forward and ensure they are treated with care respect throughout the criminal justice process in support of better justice outcomes.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said, “In my manifesto for re-election I pledged to do everything in my power to keep the women and girls in our city safe. I recognised that the approach we had taken on for so long – which focused on support for victims but not the behaviour of offenders – urgently needed to be reviewed
“That’s why I’m proud to present my refreshed strategy for tackling violence against women and girls which adopts a public health approach to ending the scourge of VAWG on our capital.
“The epidemic of violence is a crisis which should shame us all which is why I’m uniting with partners across London to not only provide support to women and girls but to help educate and inform all Londoners, especially men, about the danger posed by misogynistic attitudes and behaviours.“As well as record investment in services for victims and survivors, I am also funding initiatives which address the behaviour of those at risk of offending or reoffending to help prevent them turning to violence.
“Change will not happen overnight but I believe that together we can help to stop the men who wish to do women harm and drive forward a lasting change in our society’s culture so that women and girls can finally live their lives free from fear, harassment or abuse.”