Agenda item

Sexual Violence Strategy

To note the sexual violence strategy and to contribute to its delivery.



Dr Frances Howie (Consultant in Public Health) provided an overview of the Sexual Violence Strategy. The report is the work of the Herefordshire Community Safety Partnership (CSP) and various statutory partners have worked alongside the CSP including the police, probation, and the NHS, in addition to working with non-statutory partners including the Herefordshire Women’s Equality group. The strategy covers a five-year period and has an action plan which works with partners across the system in the implementation of the strategy. The principal points included:


1.     Sexual violence is an activity that is mostly perpetrated by men on women.

a.     98% of people who report sexual violence report that the perpetrators are male.

2.     Sexual violence is an underreported crime in terms of it going through to the criminal justice system.

3.     Data shows that reported offences are still higher post-Covid than pre-Covid.

4.     There is evidence that shows what works in tackling sexual violence, including working with perpetrators to change their behaviour.

5.     The strategy sets out a common vision where everyone lives free of the fear, threat, or experience of sexual violence.

6.     There are three areas of focus: prioritising prevention; supporting victims and survivors and pursuing perpetrators.

7.     In taking this forward, there is a commitment to:

a.     Working together to prevent sexual violence.

b.     Increasing community awareness of sexual violence, challenging victim blaming language and behaviours and believing victims and survivors.

c.     Challenging attitudes that lead to sexual violence (e.g. gender inequality) by working with community settings such as schools and businesses.

d.     Listening to victim and survivor voices to inform development and delivery of services.

e.     Ensuring that all victims and survivors can, and know how to, access specialist support when and where they need it. Lifelong support should be available and responsive to triggering life events.

8.     The next steps for the strategy are to actively manage the action plan; the Sexual Violence Sub-group of the CSP has now moved to a quarterly basis; and remaining committed to the vision where everyone lives free of the fear, threat, or experience of sexual violence.

Councillor Diana Toynbee praised the work of the strategy and acknowledged the concern that sexual violence is underreported. It was noted that there is concern with relation to the police, particularly in response to recent news stories, and it is important to keep holding police colleagues to account. Furthermore, involvement with schools was emphasised in order to teach about related issues to have appropriate training and guidance. There also needs to be some focus on the ways in which roles need to be filled and what resources are needed to help reduce waiting lists that victims and survivors face.


The Director of Public Health thanked Dr Howie and the CSP for the work and noted that within the new Health and Wellbeing strategy under mental health, one of the outcomes is for people to feel safe from harm in their communities. Relating to schools, the Director of Public Health noted a whole schools approach which covers a range of important issues including food, physical activity, and sexual violence.

The Chair acknowledged the importance of the first priority area of prevention as sexual violence involves long-term difficulties.


Dr Frances Howie noted the issue of corporate social responsibility in which if higher visibility in anchor institutions around sexual violence could be promoted amongst their workforce, this would help raise awareness of the issue. The roll-out of bystander training and educational videos could also promote positive action in tackling sexual violence. Regarding the police, there has been consideration of recommendations from a report written by DCC Maggie Blyth which can be included into the strategy’s action plan, and an additional member of the police from the vulnerability unit has joined the CSP, in addition to Ross Jones, helping to strengthen representation from the police.


The Chair asked about how quickly ‘an audit of processes currently in place in schools to understand what is being implemented to protect and support victims’ (p30 of strategy) will be conducted in helping to tackle peer-on-peer abuse.


Dr Frances Howie pointed out that the Sexual Violence Sub-group is working to put dates against the action plan and peer-on-peer is a priority for the group. Funding for training in education settings derives from the criminal justice system through the Safer Streets Fund.


The Chair referred to enforcement and bringing more cases before the courts which also reflected a wider national issue.


Dr Frances Howie praised the work of the police and has positive experience with the police in tackling the issue of sexual violence.


Superintendent Helen Wain noted that she was pleased that engagement with the police was positive and that efforts are ongoing to avoid this type of offending and bring offenders to justice.


The recommendations were proposed, seconded, and approved unanimously.


Resolved that:


a)    The Board notes the Herefordshire Sexual Violence Strategy

b)    The Board support and facilitate further development and delivery of the action plan.


Supporting documents: