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30 June, 2022

Commissioner Zoë: It’s time for action to address violence against women and girls in North Yorkshire and York

Zoe Metcalfe
A new, overarching strategy to address violence against women and girls across North Yorkshire and York is being published today by Commissioner Zoë Metcalfe.

North Yorkshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner promised to prioritise this issue and, when she was elected last November, launched a complete review of how acts of violence or abuse that disproportionately affect women or girls are dealt with across North Yorkshire and York.

She said:

“For me, this is personal. Like many women and girls, I have been out at night and worried what was around that dark corner, I have felt the rising panic of not knowing who the footsteps behind me on the street belong to, and I have felt anger at being told that this is not really a problem by those who will never experience it.

“There are too many women facing violence in their homes, on our streets and in their communities and these issues are not the responsibility of women and girls to solve. That never has been the case, and it never will be. Together, everyone must drive societal change.”

This new strategy sets out a collective commitment from groups and organisations across the area, including North Yorkshire Police, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council, and has been written collaboratively and following extensive consultation with these bodies and, crucially, victims and survivors themselves.

It identifies six objectives which aim to create tangible change and which the Commissioner is asking to be judged against:

  • Ensure all women and girls are listened to, including those from under-represented communities
  • Tackle the root causes of violence against women and girls with prevention and early intervention
  • Increase public confidence and trust in North Yorkshire Police
  • Strengthen partnerships so we work together, across agencies, to address the challenges
  • Enhance the support available for victims and survivors
  • Invest in early intervention to identify and stop potential offenders and change behaviour of those who have already offended to prevent re-offending

Zoë Metcalfe, North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, said:

“North Yorkshire and York is, statistically speaking, a safe place. But we should never forget that numbers in a spreadsheet do not tell the full story. There are still too many victims – women and girls who need to have their voices heard, who need to be confident there is a justice system that will believe them, and a network of help that supports them, builds their confidence and helps them rebuild their lives.

“Words are easy, actions are not. We have already made progress but there is much more to do, and I hope this strategy can be the catalyst for that. I have identified six strategic objectives which aim to create tangible change and make women and girls feel safe and be safe.

“Please judge us against these objectives. I want to ensure we reach a place where there is no need for a distinct strategy to tackle violence against women and girls but unfortunately, currently there is, so we must change that, and we will – together.”

This overarching violence against women and girls strategy for North Yorkshire and the City of York will be underpinned by North Yorkshire Police’s operational strategy on the issues involved, which was released in March 2022.

North Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Lisa Winward said: 

“We welcome the Commissioner’s overarching strategy and the recognition that tackling this issue will require a collaborative effort. North Yorkshire Police is committed to playing its part in removing this harm that blights our society. We have the power, responsibility and opportunity to prevent and to reduce harm and will continue to develop effective working relationships with our partners and relevant charities to better support women and girls to help them to feel safe and be safe.”

North Yorkshire Chief Fire Officer Jonathan Dyson said:

“Violence against women and girls is an issue that needs to be addressed by every element of society; it is unacceptable at any level. North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is already playing its part, along with our partners, in providing safe spaces for women and girls. Through our prevention work we have unique access to homes and we use this opportunity to identify any causes for concern with regard to vulnerability and safeguarding.”

Councillor Janet Sanderson, Executive Member for Children’s Social Care, Safeguarding and Prevention at North Yorkshire County Council said:

“Violence against women and girls, whether it’s stalking, harassment, domestic abuse or digital crimes is an issue that impacts women and girls of all backgrounds, ages, professions and cultures. It has far-reaching implications across society and I welcome this six point strategy to improve safety for women and girls in North Yorkshire.”

Councillor Denise Craghill, Executive Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods at City of York Council, said: 

“Violence against women and girls is totally unacceptable and it is right that the council should join with partners across York and North Yorkshire, through this strategy, to address the issue. It is only by working together that we will be able to achieve the kind of societal change that is needed. Whilst York and North Yorkshire is statistically a very safe place this clearly doesn’t reflect the experience of all women and girls. The six objectives in the strategy are a good basis for working together towards improved safety for all women and girls in our city.”

The full strategy is available to read at www.northyorkshire-pfcc.gov.uk/womenandgirls where you can also watch Commissioner Zoë explaining the work that has taken place to develop the plan, and how it will now be implemented.