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Children’s charity calls for Victims Code to have more teeth following shocking report into extent of violence against women and girls

Tuesday 14 March 2023

As a national children’s charity whose sole purpose is to support young crime victims and their families, we welcome the new report out today which shines a light on police performance on tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG).

The ‘Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls – Policing Performance and Insights Publication’ released by the National Police Chief’s Council and the College of Policing reveals that between October 2021 and March 2022, 17,385 girls aged between 10 and 18 reported they’d been victims of sexual offences.

A total of 428,355 VAWG-related crimes were investigated and finalised during that six-month period but only six per cent resulted in a conviction or summons.

Chief Executive of Embrace Child Victims of Crime, Anne Campbell said: “We very much welcome this report for shining a light on these crimes which have, for many reasons, remained in the dark, hidden and under reported for far too long. However, the report clearly shows that to give victims confidence in the legal process tougher action needs to be taken against perpetrators and there needs to be a firm focus on bringing them to justice.

“Sexual violence and domestic abuse continue to be the main reason so many young people and families are referred to us. All too often we hear about the lack of support offered to many victims. Many young victims face a postcode lottery across the country when it comes to accessing the support they so desperately need to overcome their trauma. I’d like to see the Victims’ Code much more widely promoted so that those harmed by crime understand their rights and also for the code to go further to ensure there is a legal requirement for young victims to receive support.

The Victims Code states that all victims including children have a right to be referred to support that is tailored to their needs, but so many families tell us they have struggled to access any support at all. This report is a step in the right direction but there is still so much to do to make sure all victims and particularly young people do not have their life chances destroyed by crimes that happen to them through no fault of their own.”

The new report, published today, highlights 2020 research which found that 76% or 3 out of 4 girls aged between 12 and 18 had been sent unsolicited nude images of boys and men.

Ms Campbell said: “No parent would want their child to be subjected to this but clearly perpetrators continue to carry out these deplorable acts because they feel they can get away with it. Online sexual abuse can have a huge impact on a child’s emotional and mental

health and the law needs to provide much harsher penalties to give victims the confidence to report them and all children need to be offered support at the earliest opportunity to help them recover from their trauma.

“We are working hard to reach as many victims as we can to support, advocate for and give them a voice. Every woman and girl reporting a crime of violence against them should be listened to, believed, and have the confidence to know their case will be properly investigated and they will receive the support they need to overcome their trauma.

“This report represents the first step on what is likely to be a long and difficult journey for the police to rebuild the trust of the public and ensure they are meeting their duties laid out in the Victims Code.”