Plymouth council leader 'determined' to make city safe for women and girls

A candelit vigil was held for Bobbi-Anne McLeod.

A new commission will be set up in Plymouth to tackle violence against women and girls, the leader of the City Council has confirmed.

Councillor Nick Kelly's announcement follows the death of 18-year-old Bobbi-Anne McLeod, who was reported missing from the Leigham area of the city on November 20.

After a huge police search, police found a body in Bovisand and later charged Cody Ackland, 24, with her murder.

The Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Commission will look at what is being done to educate men and boys in Plymouth, and review what can be done to prevent violence against women and girls.

It will also look at what support is available for female victims and hear from those who have firsthand experience of rape and other sexual offences.

Councillor Rebecca Smith will chair the commission, which will also encompass crimes such as stalking, domestic abuse, 'honour-based abuse', 'revenge porn' and 'upskirting'.

"Plymouth has seen a tragedy in the past week. I am determined that the council will do all that it can to ensure that the city is made safe for women and girls," Cllr Kelly said.

“Quite rightly the conversation must centre around female voices. Therefore, we need to listen. I have asked Cllr Rebecca Smith to lead this piece of work, spearheading the commission.

“Together with our partners we will then put in place clear, deliverable actions that will make a real difference to the safety of our streets."

Councillor Rebecca Smith added: “This is such an important issue. One that I am honoured to lead on behalf of Plymouth. We cannot shy away from the realities that women face.

”The feeling of fear, intimidation, harassment and helplessness cannot continue, we need to confront these problems head-on so we can come up with a lasting, long-term solution to the deadly violence and abuse too many women and girls experience, at the hands of men.

“We have a number of groups in the city who are working tirelessly on this already and I am keen to work with them to capitalise on their experience and expertise, so that together we can be part of the solution. I want to move forward and make a real change for Plymouth.”