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The Violence Against Women and Girls Independent Scrutiny Panel is commissioned by the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, it is fully supported by Cumbria Constabulary and set within the context of their work to transform the way they deal with violence against women and girls. This work is part of a national and local strategy to reduce violence against women and girls, and includes extensive training of new officers and supervisors, building better relationships with women’s organisations in the county, working with the night-time economy to make safer places, and many other interventions to change culture and attitudes to women and girls.

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is an umbrella term used to cover a variety of abuses against women and girls including:

  • Domestic Abuse
  • Domestic Homicide
  • Sexual Assault
  • Honour Based Abuse (HBA)
  • Stalking
  • Spiking

The first Violence against Women and Girls Scrutiny Panel meeting was held in October 2022. This is chaired and attended by the volunteer members of Cumbria Victims Charitable Trust, (CVCT) with attendance by members of Cumbria Constabulary and the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner. (OPFCC)

The purpose of the Panel is to provide a victim centred review of how Cumbria Constabulary deals with violence against women and girls. Its scrutiny of cases aims to identify good practice and ways to improve the service Cumbria Police provides to victims, as measured against the Rights within the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime. For the public, including victims of crime, the aim is to provide transparency and accountability for the Police’s handling of such incidents.

The Panel provides constructive independent scrutiny at both an organisational and an individual level, to promote best practice, identify potential policy or staff development needs and prompt more effective working practices. It works to ensure the voice of victims, including the lived experience of victims, is heard and provides challenge where it appears not to have been considered.

The Constabulary now has over 90 police officers volunteering to be VAWG Champions. They are visiting the Women’s Centres in the county on a regular basis, to create better relationships with the people attending the centres and gain a better understanding of the needs of the women and girls coming into the centres.

A training package has been created for New Starters in the Constabulary so that they will immediately contribute to a culture where Violence Against Women and Girls is recognised and challenged from the beginning of their careers. The training has been recognised regionally and recently Cumbria Constabulary won an award for this. Nationally the training has now been used by other forces across the country.

There has been a training focus on Supervisory staff, Sergeants, and Inspectors have also received training, and eventually all front-line officers will be trained too.

Vetting of police officers and staff in the Constabulary has been improved with more regular checks conducted.

Each Scrutiny panel meeting focuses on a specific subject area. The meeting begins with a presentation from a subject matter expert from the constabulary explaining relevant practice, research, and current thinking necessary to inform the panel about the type of crime they will be scrutinising. The panel then reviews each case and they will discuss any concerns, considerations with the VAWG Tactical Lead from the Constabulary before assessing the quality of victim care provided and how the case has been considered and completed. The panel will then score the report and make any relevant comments. This will be fed back to the officer and his management.

The Independent Scrutiny panel meet on a quarterly basis and have provided some great feedback to the Constabulary since the panel was introduced in 2022.

Click on the link to read the The Annual Report for The Violence Against Women and Girls Scrutiny Panel 2023.