The Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands will host his annual victim’s summit this week as he continues his push to tackle violence against women and girls. He is delighted to welcome the national Victims Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC and the Shadow Minister for Domestic Abuse, Jess Phillips MP who will be addressing the conference and taking questions.
The event brings together victims, organisations who support survivors, health professionals and other partners from across the region.
The focus of this year’s summit is “Ending Violence Against Women and Girls” and comes as reports in domestic abuse and sexual assault and abuse have risen sharply during lockdown whilst many crimes, such as burglary and robbery have fallen.
Violence against women and girls is classed as any violence which either does or could result in physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to any female, whatever their age. This includes threats and deprivation of liberty.
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, said: “Since my election in 2014 I have prioritised preventing and detecting hidden crimes such as domestic abuse, sexual violence, forced marriage and honour based abuse, female genital mutilation and sexual exploitation.
“The majority of these hidden crimes disproportionately impact women and girls.
“COVID-19 has produced a pandemic of domestic abuse and violence against women and girls which we have shone a light on here in the West Midlands with our No Excuse For Abuse campaign.
“The prevention and eradication of violence against women and girls must continue to be prioritised across the whole criminal justice system and I’m pleased that we have some excellent speakers who share my views on this important agenda.
“I have doubled the funding for victims of domestic abuse since 2016, despite the funding we receive from government falling in real terms. We also have nearly 50 additional police officers being brought in to focus on domestic abuse investigations. This shows how seriously we take these crimes. Nobody should be afraid in their own home.
“This is my final victim’s summit, but I hope that my successor will continue to prioritise these crimes and work tirelessly to support victims.”
Jess Phillips MP, who is the Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding has championed the voice of victims in Parliament who often go unheard, she said: “I have worked for years with West Midlands Police and our Police and Crime Commissioner to ensure that violence against women and girls is core to the work we do to protect our region.
“The dedicated teams are always striving to improve the rights and experiences of victims but there is still much more to do.
“I am pleased that the force is committed to making this happen, we have work to do.”
Dame Vera Baird QC is the national Victims Commissioner, responsible for being the independent voice of victims and witnesses, she added: “Crimes which disproportionately affect women and girls, such as sexual violence, have a devastating impact on those directly affected, as well as on society as a whole.
“We have seen growing pressure on the police and support services to help victims during the pandemic and the West Midlands have been at the forefront of encouraging victims to come forward.
“This event is always an excellent opportunity to focus in on the big issues facing the criminal justice system and look at what can be done together to improve the service victims receive.”