PSNI launch action plan to tackle violence against women and young girls

The PSNI launched a strategy to combat violence against women and girls. Credit: Stock image

The PSNI has launched its first Tackling Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) Action Plan for policing.

The force said it was a "crucial step in turning the tables against violent men".

Women's Aid described the measure as "historic" and brought NI into line with the rest of the UK.

The PSNI has devised the strategy after acknowledging that women and girls are disproportionately affected by violence, abuse and intimidation.

From April 2021 to March 2022, women and girls in Northern Ireland made up 78% of all victims of sexual crimes, 68% of domestic abuse and 64% of harassment.

Between 2017 and 2021, 34 women and girls across Northern Ireland were killed by men.

Chief Constable Simon Byrne said: “We cannot ignore the lived experiences of so many female victims. Harassment, intimidation, violence and abuse is a violation of human dignity.

“We can and we will be pursuing those who seek to harm them, using every power available to us.

"We will also be focused on bettering our own culture and continuing to educate our officers and staff to understand the impact of unacceptable attitudes and behaviors, taking effective and appropriate action against those who may take advantage of their trusted position in society.”

The action plan was launched in the Lyric Theatre in Belfast and featured speeches from the National Policing lead for VAWG, Deputy Chief Constable Maggie Blyth.

“Violence against women and girls is a shameful stain on society," DCC Blyth said.

"Too often women and girls do not feel safe at work, home, on the streets or online.

"Each action plan written is another crucial step towards achieving our mission to turn the tables so violent men feel under threat and not women and girls."

The latest VAWG action plan is modelled on existing initiatives across the UK and was developed with recommendations from the UK Government, National Police Chiefs’ Council and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Service.

The VAWG plan focusses on three key areas:

  • Building trust and confidence in policing to tackling violence against women and girls 

  • Relentlessly pursuing perpetrators of violence and supporting victims

  • Creating safer spaces for women and girls

“The launch today of the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s action plan to tackle violence against women and girls is an historic day for all women and girls in Northern Ireland, finally bringing Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK," NI Women’s Aid Federation CEO Sarah Mason said.

She added: “The police taking this first step is welcomed by Women’s Aid but we are clear that we need a whole Northern Ireland approach to tackle VAWG in all its forms and look forward to local Government taking the next step."

Help and support about reporting domestic violence to the PSNI can be found here, more help and support is also available at Women's Aid.

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