Our work to improve the way we respond to violence against women and girls continues with the launch of our newly formed Listening Circles.
This is part of our ongoing work following the feedback we received last year from a survey of almost 1,200 people – it revealed:
More than third of women and girls who have been victims of crime did not report this to us
Of these, nearly 50% said they didn’t report the crime as they felt we would not have taken them seriously
A third of women said they would not bother reporting crimes to us in the future based on their experience of reporting crimes to us previously.
Since receiving the feedback from our communities we have made several significant improvements to the way we deal with violence against women and girls (VAWG).
These include - training for officers and staff to help them spot the signs of domestic abuse, the increased use of Body Worn Cameras to ensure all evidence is captured at domestic abuse incidents to support future prosecutions, and increasing the number of officers and staff dedicated to investigations.
As a result of this work, we’ve seen a dramatic improvement in outcomes for incidents of rape and serious sexual offences. But we know there is still much more to do.
Those seldom heard
One area highlighted by our research was that there were groups of women and girls which were underrepresented.
We have identified these as:
Younger women and girls aged between 18 – 24
Older women aged 65 and over
Women and girls of ethnic minority groups.
To encourage these seldom heard groups to come forward we are launching new Listening Circles. They have been created in partnership with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to provide a safe space for women and girls to share their experiences, feedback, and suggestions to help us shape the service we provide.
VAWG lead for Wiltshire Police, Detective Superintendent Sarah Robbins said: “The Listening Circles will give people an opportunity to speak out about violence against women and girls as well as encouraging feedback and recommendations to us so we can get better at responding to these crimes.
“It’s important we hear from all in our communities, especially those in the underrepresented groups we have identified. For whatever reason, those we seldom hear from.
“To get a full picture of our county we need to hear from all – listen to all. It’s the only way we can shape our service to best serve you.
“Your voice is vital so we can work together to tackle violence against women and girls.”
Helping to shape the police service
Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson urged those who felt able to use their experience to join a Listening Circle and help shape the service provided by Wiltshire Police and his office’s commissioned victim support services.
He said: “Tackling violence against women and girls is a key priority identified within my police and crime plan and both the Chief Constable and I are determined to improve the service received by Wiltshire’s victims.
“Restoring the trust and confidence victims should have within policing will take time and I recognise the good progress made by Force in the past year with improving victim care and increasing investigative outcomes for rape and serious sexual assault.
“We will not be complacent and think we are doing enough. I would urge people to have their voice heard by signing up to a Listening Circle and, in turn, help Wiltshire Police and the support services my office commissions to respond more effectively to those crimes.
“Both the Chief Constable and I want women and girls to have renewed confidence in the police and criminal justice system that is there to protect them – and you can help them do that.”
Getting in touch
For more information please visit wearelistening.uk where people can find the link to register for the Listening Circles.
We would always encourage anyone who has been a victim of crime or who has witnessed a crime to reach out to us.
You can also contact CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111 where information can be passed to us anonymously.
We understand that not everyone is ready or able to report to the police. There are many organisations and charities ready to support you. Information about support options are also available on our website.
Be up front. We can do more. Tell us, we’re listening.