Written evidence submitted by Rights of Women (POP0054)

About Rights of Women

Rights of Women [established 1975] is a legal rights organisation which specialises in supporting women who are experiencing – or at risk of experiencing – all forms of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), including domestic and sexual violence. In our approach, we recognise the additional barriers posed by the intersection of gender-based abuse, racism, structural inequality and other forms of discrimination and oppression that impact on women’s vulnerability, exclusion and marginalisation.

By offering a range of services – including specialist telephone legal advice lines, legal information and training for professionals – we aim to increase women’s understanding of their legal rights and improve their access to justice. We empower women to make informed choices where they come into contact with the criminal, family, employment or immigration and asylum legal systems so they can live free from violence.


Rights of Women is a registered charity 1147913 and Company Limited by Guarantee.



  1. As a women’s legal rights organisation, Rights of Women (ROW) supports victim survivors of violence against women and girls (VAWG) through provision of free legal advice to around 3500 women annually across our range of advice services. We hear first hand of their experiences when coming into contact with the police. We also support women who have been criminalised, often in the context of VAWG. Our response to this inquiry is directly informed by the experiences of the victim survivors we support. Across the board, the experiences relayed to us are profoundly negative and damaging, speaking to high levels of re-victimisation and re-traumatisation following contact with the police.


  1. The Home Affairs Select Committee has rightly noted the dire state of policing in England and Wales, with public confidence in policing being severely undermined in recent years. Serving officers have been involved in high-profile criminal cases, including sexual offences and murder. Six police forces are currently in special measures as a result of poor performance. There are ongoing and persistent concerns regarding institutional misogyny, racism, police misconduct, police-perpetrated abuse, brutality and state complicity in VAWG. Meanwhile, prosecutions of rape, sexual violence, domestic abuse and other forms of VAWG collapse in volume. This inquiry therefore comes at a time when women’s trust in the police and other criminal justice institutions is vanishingly low.


  1. However, the issues which underlie this crisis are not new. While police violence has found its way onto the political and media agenda in recent months and years in relation to VAWG, Black and minoritised communities have campaigned against racist treatment, aggressive over-policing and police brutality for decades. The new Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has described the scale of misconduct as leaving him “appalled[1] focusing in particular on the prevalence of misogyny and racism within the police.


  1. Despite this deeply troubling backdrop, the Government has over recent months sought to expand police powers through a series of widely-criticised and oppressive pieces of legislation, including the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022[2], the Public Order Bill[3] and the Bill of Rights Bill[4] – the latter of which seems set to return to Parliament following the reappointment of Dominic Raab under Rishi Sunak. These legislative priorities, explored further below, speak to a future where a woman’s ability to hold the police to account for violations of her rights is severely undermined. 


  1. At the outset of this response, ROW also takes the opportunity to note that investment in criminal justice institutions as they exist now does not prevent VAWG. While it is important that the criminal justice system is funded at a level that ensures cases are dealt with fairly and expeditiously, and that victim survivors are not further victimised through these processes, the Government too frequently takes an easier, criminal justice focused approach in responding to the endemic nature of VAWG in our society. Time and time again, the police as an institution have demonstrated it is not in any position to lead work addressing VAWG. Instead, the criminal justice system and other state agencies perpetuate VAWG – both in their complicity in the failures outlined above and in the way women are policed and experience policing. There must be a renewed and well-resourced effort on preventing VAWG in the first instance, requiring community-focused solutions that include greater measures to hold the police to account.


  1. A continued reliance on the criminal justice system to protect women is ultimately an acceptance of the social, legal, and political structures that underpin male privilege and use of violence, focusing as it does on individualising this harm. Addressing the underlying causes of VAWG requires recognition of the misogyny which lies at the heart of our society and is perpetuated by the state – and a deep understanding of the intersectional nature of that discrimination. Housing, equal pay, education, employment, access to healthcare, parental policies, provision for mental health support, welfare benefits and addressing inequalities based on race, faith, migrant status, disability, sexuality, gender identity, class and age are all areas which require Government action. The criminalisation and prosecution of perpetrators individualises a problem that is, in reality, institutional and requires a systemic response.


What a modern police service, fit for the 2020s and beyond, looks like

  1. Given our experience and expertise, ROW is well placed to draw attention to the myriad of problems we hear about on a daily basis from women who come into contact with the police. These problems are deeply embedded in the institution of policing, and for this reason ROW does not seek to lay out a roadmap for a police force that could be described as “fit for the 2020s and beyond”.


  1. The institutional history of policing and the associated complicity in violence cannot simply be reformed out, and there are fundamental questions which must be asked about the role of the police in our society and how they best serve our communities. Below, we identify some of the most pressing concerns which lie at the intersection between policing and the work to end VAWG.

Complicity and police-perpetrated violence

  1. As an organisation that advises victim survivors on their legal rights, an urgent problem we perceive within the police force is complicity in VAWG, and police-perpetrated abuse. The figures make for distressing reading:
  1. The Home Office and the police must acknowledge and seek to address the role the state has played in perpetuating VAWG and the power that its institutions have as a key driver of this harm.

Misogynistic and racist attitudes to victim survivors and VAWG

  1. The recently published and damning interim report from the Baroness Casey Review found “systemic” and “institutionalised” problems within the police, referencing the significant failures that led to hundreds of racist, misogynistic and homophobic officers remaining in the force.[9] This simply cannot be excused as a few bad apples – it speaks to deeply entrenched and discriminatory approaches to policing.


  1. Victim survivors report experiencing systemic bias whereby the account of a man is considered more persuasive and of higher value than the account of a woman. Some victim survivors will have chosen not to report the sexual violence they have experienced to the police for these reasons. Of those who do, many describe feeling let down and/or retraumatised by the criminal justice process. Few describe their experiences as resulting in something approaching justice.


  1. We hear reassurances at a policy and oversight level that the police are regularly encouraged to take an ‘offender-centric’ approach and to look closely at the action of the suspects before, during and after the alleged offence. However, counter to this, we hear time and time again from the women calling our advice service that this is far from their experience. It is still commonplace to hear victims have been arrested when the suspect has made a counter-allegation or argued that they have acted in self-defence. The police are failing to implement the correct approach on the ground and we are concerned that a biased mindset is influencing decisions to proceed without attempting to establish the facts and carry out a thorough investigation into the background of the relationship and ensure that the full context of the incident is understood.


  1. For example, a recent caller to our helpline had contacted the police via 999. When the police attended she was in extreme distress and had been locked outside the property by her partner. The police spoke to both parties. The perpetrator was calm and collected, and accusing the caller of causing damage in the property. The caller reported having been assaultedthe perpetrator had placed his hands around her neck. She was able to break free and threw a picture at the perpetrator when he gave chase. The picture smashed on the stairs. The police saw the damage and arrested the woman for criminal damage, making no effort to understand the obvious abusive dynamic, despite the caller having made previous reports of domestic violence.  


  1. Victim survivors report that they are not treated with dignity and respect by the officers handling their case – whether this is through condescension, disinterest or active aggression and mocking.  For example, in cases of sexual violence where a suspect has been interviewed, victim survivors often report feeling that the police have found the suspect’s account more persuasive than their account to the contrary, but with little justification for this position or explanation of how this relates to the test for charging. Cases of domestic abuse are dismissed as minor, with the term “a domestic” being used to imply some sort of disagreement for which both parties are equally culpable, despite clear accounts to the contrary.


  1. A caller to our advice line reported being raped in a park while out walking her dog. Following an Achieving Best Evidence interview, medical examination and investigation, the police informed her that a decision had been made to take no further action as the perpetrator could not be identified. The officer in her case attended the woman’s home, together with a colleague, to inform her that they were taking no further action but also served her with a fixed penalty notice for wasting police time. She was told that if she did not accept the fixed penalty notice then the police would be seeking advice from the Crown Prosecution Service as to a formal charge of wasting police time or even perverting the course of justice. 


  1. Misogyny and racism are, by their structural and systemic nature, replicated in criminal justice institutions. The criminal justice system regularly refuses protection to minoritised women and puts them at greater risk of state violence. Black and minoritised victim survivors who contact our advice lines report experiencing racism in the way their cases are handled. The work of Step Up Migrant Women[10] highlights how fear of immigration enforcement also acts as a significant barrier to useful or positive interaction with the police. For example, migrant women may fear that their information will be passed to the Home Office – emphasising the importance of a firewall which prevents such data sharing.


  1. Many natural reactions to trauma, including shame and guilt, act as barriers to women reporting VAWG to the police. This may be disproportionately experienced by women from community or cultural backgrounds that have been marginalised, where stigmatisation combined with a history of discriminatory and disproportionate policing are additional barriers. . This is exacerbated by insensitive attitudes and questioning that feeds into these feelings of guilt and shame. The London Rape Review conducted by the Mayor of London’s Office for Policing and Crime and the University of West London in 2019[11] found that thousands of rape cases have been dropped by complainants because of the “stress and trauma caused or exacerbated by the investigation”. Victim survivors report to us that their trauma and the impact this has on their account and evidence is not recognised or understood by the officers they have contact with. Callers to our advice lines report being asked questions around why they did not report sexual violence earlier and why they didn’t take more “preventative” action before, during and after the attack. While it is important that the police are able to gather evidence and a full picture of the incident in question, it is essential that they recognise the impact of trauma on victim survivors and the ways in which this can manifest itself and that there is no “right way” for a victim of sexual violence to behave.


  1. In Chapter Two of the current CPS guidance Applying the Code for Crown Prosecutors to Rape and Serious Sexual Offences[12], it clearly recognises that “many RASSO cases will feature limited or no corroborative evidence” and that:


“it is essential that prosecutors do not introduce a requirement for corroboration in their review process or identify the ‘one versus one’ feature of the case as a negative in their assessment of the evidence. One person's word can be sufficient to provide a realistic prospect of conviction. A jury can and does convict in such cases. The issues may be lack of consent or reasonable belief in consent. Even in these cases, it is not unusual that the evidence consists of more than merely two opposing counts of equal credibility.”[13]


Despite this clear guidance, many victim survivors report that the police took no further action in their matter because it was “her word against his”. This mindset undoubtedly prevents prosecutions taking place, when a more appropriate way to proceed is for those accounts to be tested in court. In many of these cases, victim survivors are essentially turned away and told to seek civil protection orders instead.

  1. In one recent call to our advice line, a victim survivor had initiated the victim’s right to review process following a decision made by the police to take no further action in her case. The review was carried out by a Detective Chief Inspector who agreed with the original decision. The victim survivor was informed, in writing, that her Achieving Best Evidence interview had been watched again and her evidence was ‘credible’ and in the DCI’s opinion she gave a ‘truthful account’. She was told that, despite this, there was no corroborating evidence to support the prosecution case and that the case had not passed the threshold to be proved beyond doubt as it was essentially one word against another. This case evidences a number of errors, including the fact that a credible, truthful account was not passed to the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration by a lawyer. In addition to this, the threshold applied (beyond reasonable doubt) was wholly erroneous. At charging stage, the test is whether there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction. The only recourse the victim survivor now has is judicial review, a lengthy, complex and expensive process.

Victim survivor’s legal rights

  1. We regularly hear from victim survivors about cases in which there have been breaches of the Victims’ Code[14], and where their right to receive information has not been adhered to. The failure to provide such information risks disempowering the victim survivor and leaving her unaware of her options for holding the police to account and ensuring the criminal justice process responds to her needs. Victim survivors specifically report that they are not receiving the updates they are entitled to about the progression of their case, often under the enhanced service they are entitled to as the victim of domestic abuse or sexual violence. Calls and emails are regularly not returned, leading to frustration and anxiety, or a cycle of new officers are assigned their case.


  1. Victim survivors also report delays of many months in their cases being progressed.[15] While investigations of this nature may take some time, victim survivors report to us that feelings of disempowerment and confusion are exacerbated by a lack of regular and effective communication from the police. Even where there has been no progress, an update provides some certainty for the victim survivor and can assist in managing expectations as to the timeframe for the case. We have had numerous calls where victim survivors have provided samples – which are often intimate and sensitive in nature – and have then been told that they have not been sent to the lab, that there are significant delays or even that the samples have been lost.


  1. Victim survivors are also pressured into handing over sensitive information in order for their account to be taken seriously, even where justification for requiring such access is not provided (i.e. full mobile phone[16], medical and/or therapy records). From the calls we have with victim survivors regarding mobile phone extraction, it would appear that the forms DPNa and DPNb[17] (which should be provided to victim survivors and witnesses to help them understand why their phone is required and what will be taken from it) are rarely used or provided to the victim survivors. These forms were intended to implement the principles set out in the Bater-James judgment concerning mobile phone extraction[18] and address the concerns raised in the Information Commissioner’s investigation report into mobile phone data extraction.[19]


  1. Giving oral evidence to the Public Bill Committee, the then Victims’ Commissioner Vera Baird observed that “you will find that the view is that on the ground it is practically routine for rape and sexual assault complainants to be asked to hand over digital devices, and for most of the material on it to be trawled…The CPS frequently seeks a level of material straight away, before it charges, and if a complainant refuses, the case just does not get considered for charge. That is very, very troubling, and it has a chilling effect not only on current victims, but on reporting, and it could impact victim attrition.”[20] Baird also referred to a Home Office funded pilot of independent legal advice for rape complainants dealing with digital download matters: “that pilot disclosed that about 50% of the requests for digital download of rape complainants’ devices were not necessary or proportionate”.[21]


  1. Finally on the rights of victim survivors, callers to our lines regularly report fearing their abuser and have concerns that the police will not keep them safe – particularly when their abuser becomes aware that they have made a report. This is particularly the case where an abuser is not arrested or is released under investigation, in the absence of any conditions to protect the victim survivor. There is no time limit on suspects being released under investigation, and no provision of conditions as there is with bail. As a result, victim survivors report feeling unsafe leaving the house and even in their own homes. While a suspect being released on bail generally provides a greater level of security and safety for victim survivors because of the ability to place bail conditions on the suspect, we regularly hear reports that bail conditions are breached by suspects – often to the level that reaches the threshold of witness intimidation – and little or no action is taken when they report this to the police.

Police accountability to victim survivors

  1. Victim survivors regularly approach us for support because they have been told by the police that no further action will be taken in the case that they have reported. Most often, they are informed that this is due to a lack of evidence – a point covered elsewhere in our response. We also regularly hear from women that their cases are not appropriately sent to the CPS for a charging decision but instead the police use their discretion to take no further action and this results in the case never being reviewed by a specialist prosecutor


  1. In both of these scenarios, victim survivors generally report being unable to secure accountability through the Victims’ Right to Review scheme, or the police complaints scheme. In some cases this is because they were not provided with information about the Victims’ Right to Review scheme and then pass the three month time limit for requesting a review. Often, original decisions to, for example, take no further action are upheld on the grounds of a lack of evidence – a potentially problematic determination which we have covered elsewhere. In some cases, a suspect is charged with an alternative, lesser offence – something which is not open to the Victims Right to Review scheme. A recent caller to our advice line told us that she had reported an offence of disclosing sexual images without consent and harassment/stalking where she was put in fear of violence. A decision was made to charge with the single offence of section 2 harassment, a much lesser offence which did not capture the nature and severity of the offending. This left the victim survivor with no right to review.


  1. Victim survivors are also not made aware that they can submit a complaint against the police – or they are aware and frustrated that an internal police team will essentially mark their own homework. Because of this, victim survivors often report that they are frightened to complain and they feel that doing so would have a negative impact on their case and ability to achieve justice. It is clear from our contact with victim survivors there is little or no trust and confidence in the complaint systems currently available to either resolve ongoing problems in a fair and timely manner, or provide redress for police failings. From a victim survivors experience, this lack of trust and confidence is well-founded and the  complaint system have a history of failing victim survivors through a lack of transparency and discriminatory responses. Baroness Casey’s interim report into police misconduct noted a myriad of failures in the way complaints against police officers are handled.


What balance police forces in England and Wales should strike between a focus on preventing and solving crime and carrying out their other functions

What roles police forces should prioritise


  1. Again ROW groups these issues together given that each speaks to a question around balancing priorities. ROW notes the absence of guidance on what “other functions” and “roles” respondents to this inquiry should select from. The College of Policing identifies four core operational duties for police: protecting life and property, preserving order, preventing the commission of offences and bringing offenders to justice. Each of these priorities gives rise to a myriad of potential concerns (i.e. what is “order” and who decides, what does “justice” mean in this context.) ROW avers the comments made above with regard to prevention of VAWG and how the police are ill-suited to address this complex problem.



  1. On preserving order, ROW also takes the opportunity to point out the Government’s recent efforts to clamp down on protest, eroding our right to express dissent. This has been brought sharply into focus by the recent Public Order Bill, discussed further below.


  1. The concept of prevention as carried out by the police is also problematic. A pertinent example is stop and search – a power the Government consistently seeks to expand. Such proposals ignore the overwhelming evidence of its discriminatory impact and the corresponding, growing concerns about systemic racism and over-surveillance in policing. The use of these powers has repeatedly led to the racist profiling of Black and minoritised groups. It is well-evidenced that police stop and search is discriminatory in practice, targeting Black people at rates 9 times that of white people.[22] In London, young Black men are 19 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.[23]


  1. ROW also takes this opportunity to highlight concerns around approaches which see police address VAWG and misogyny through the use of hate crime laws. While ROW welcomes efforts to challenge the misogynistic attitudes that underlie offences committed against women, who are disproportionately the victims of sexual offences,[24] FGM,[25] forced marriage,[26] domestic abuse[27] and sexual harassment[28], we are concerned by the recent focus on addressing these complex societal problems by reforming hate crime laws. It is highly likely that any hate crime law developed around this issue will use the terms ‘motivated by hostility based on sex’ as opposed to ‘motivated by misogyny’. This reflects the language of the Equality Act 2010, under which sex is a generally defined characteristic, with no specific protection in place for women. However, when the Law Commission undertook their wide-ranging and detailed research into hate crime, they concluded we have established that there is evidence to suggest women, unlike men, tend to be targeted because of hostility or prejudice towards their gender” .[29] Such framing therefore undermines the recognition that misogynistic attitudes underlie offending against women,  and the specifically gendered experience of violent crime.[30]


  1. We are concerned that introducing hate crime on the basis of sex will inevitably leave some crimes against women being classified as ‘non-misogynistic’, which does not reflect ROW’s view that all crimes committed against women are done so in the context of entrenched misogyny. We are also mindful of the impact that such a change will have on the prosecution process – for example, the need for the prosecution to prove the presence of specific hostility based on sex despite an acceptance of the widespread misogyny that underpins violence against women and girls. Given the aforementioned normalised nature of such prejudices underlying offending of this sort, proving specific hostility may be challenging – and ROW note that this is an obstacle across the board for many hate crime strands. This potential invalidation of a victim survivor’s experience may give rise to complex and traumatic feelings for victim survivors.[31] Discrete expertise and approaches have been developed to support victim survivors of VAWG, and it is essential that these approaches, especially VAWG services by and for Black and minoritised women, are protected and not – entirely inadvertently – diluted by a reframing as part of hate crime law.

An authoritarian direction

  1. As referenced above, a stream of recent and proposed legislation suggests a concerning direction of travel for the future of the police. Individually, each of these Bills are a pernicious attack on our liberties which affords even greater powers to the police. Collectively, they suggest movement towards even more deeply authoritarian policing, rather than a focus on communities and their needsThe Government is frequently challenged through joint VAWG sector coalitions for implying support from or seeking to co-opt the VAWG sector when building the case for increasing police powers..


  1. For example, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Act  2022 represents a deeply authoritarian approach to our fundamental rights and freedoms, containing a raft of measures which erode our civil liberties while failing to engage with or address the complex, underlying causes of VAWG.[32] It relies on criminal justice cure-alls which will not positively alter the outcomes experienced by victim survivors and will exacerbate existing racial inequalities in setting the foundation for further criminalisation of Black and minoritised people. The aforementioned Public Order Bill was made up of provisions originally rejected by Parliament when they formed part of the PCSC Bill. These appear to demonstrate a worrying trend that veers away from the primacy of democratic decision-making.


  1. A further example is the Public Order Bill. Protest is a feminist issue, firmly embedded in the struggle for women’s rights – and particularly the rights of Black and minoritised women. Our fight to end violence against women relies heavily upon our ability to gather together, to mourn our sisters, to expose injustice, and to collectively demand change. These proposals, however, hand the police an alarming range of powers which will see an expansive crackdown on our right to protest and our ability to express dissent about issues such as the police failures.[33]

What can be done to improve community policing and increase trust in police officers and forces, including on funding and on disciplinary powers when police officer behaviour falls below required standards

Specifically, what the Metropolitan Police must do to increase trust under its new Commissioner

  1. ROW has grouped these questions together and provides a general response. Former Metropolitan Police Chief Commissioner Cressida Dick’s promotion to leadership within the police was despite responsibility for issues of significant public concern. In 2005, she headed the operation which led to the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes. She also oversaw the Met's use of stop and search tactics, the handling of recommendations made after the botched Operation Midland, arrests of attendees at a candlelight vigil for Sarah Everard and complaints by the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel that she obstructed their inquiry into police corruption in 2021. Ultimately, she lost the confidence of Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, over her response to racism and misogyny in the force, leading to her leaving office in April this year.


  1. It is important to note is that a failure to address institutional racism and misogyny . While it goes without saying that the new Commissioner, Mark Rowley, must prioritise addressing these issues, it must also be noted that problems of this magnitude which have become embedded in the police force cannot simply be reformed out.


  1. We refer the Committee to comments we have made elsewhere in this response which speak to the lack of police accountability to victim survivors, which in turn reduces trust.


What steps can be taken to improve national conviction rates, including via relationships with other bodies such as the Crown Prosecution Service

  1. As outlined elsewhere, criminal justice measures should not be the priority when addressing VAWG – and this includes a focus on conviction rates.


  1. A recurring criticism of the justice system is that it fails to rehabilitate offenders such that victim survivors of sexual violence, and women generally, can feel reassured of a greater level of safety. There is little evidence to support increasing prison sentences as a solution to this, and we cannot expect models of punishment that rely on social isolation to solve the issues which underlie the prevalence of VAWG. These are issues ripe for exploration elsewhere, but Rights of Women notes that “we can never imprison our way to a safer society. Prisons store up and create problems that come back to haunt our communities in the form of more crime and human misery”.[34]


  1. Work by Respect, an organisation which leads on the development of safe, effective work with perpetrators, male victims, and young people using violence in their close relationships, shows that we need an emphasis on the prevention of violence; the acknowledgment that VAWG is inextricably linked with misogyny; and the recognition of the need to focus on perpetrators.[35] Respect also calls for responses that are not “too narrowly focused on criminal justice responses”.[36]


  1. Putting conviction rates aside, ROW would suggest other priorities for the criminal justice system. For example, Rights of Women note that victim survivors do not receive the level of legal advice necessary to navigate the complex criminal justice process and to understand how they can protect their own rights where these are in conflict with the interests of the prosecution (i.e. mobile phone extraction, disclosure of medical records, intrusive questions around sexual history). While some women are able to access such advice via our legal advice lines, we can only provide support to a small fraction of those who attempt to contact us. There is no wider provision for victim survivors to be provided with appropriate legal advice prior to the point of report and then throughout the criminal justice process. 


  1. It should also be noted that the VAWG sector has endured many years of underfunding and the essential work undertaken by such organisations has not been fully recognised when it comes to the allocation of funding and resources from Government. This is particularly the case in relation to specialist services run by and for Black and minoritised women.[37] The police are, of course, right to signpost to these services (i.e. helplines and support organisations, specialist ‘by and for’ organisations, Independent Sexual Violence Advocates or “ISVAs”), but such services are not only invariably under-funded but over-subscribed. We hear of long wait times for ISVAs, leaving women unsupported in the interim. Even where such services are available, they should not be considered a substitute for the police fulfilling their separate duties to ensure appropriate support, signposting, guidance and information.



  1. The response above outlines a non-exhaustive range of concerns around current approaches to policing in the context of VAWG. It is important to note that structural inequality is the overarching context which frames the way in which criminal justice institutions perpetuate patriarchal approaches to justice, which ultimately re-traumatise and re-victimise victim survivors. Responses to sexual violence and VAWG must recognise and undertake to address the discriminatory nature of the approaches taken by such institutions, and the wider social injustice which allows for a culture where VAWG is both prevalent and inadequately addressed. 


  1. Rights of Women looks to a future where women can feel safe from all forms of violence, and the state works to address the underlying causes of such violence. We would encourage the Committee to hold the Government to account for its poor record of the policing of VAWG, focusing resourcing on addressing the structural causes of VAWG and the lack of funding for the VAWG sector, particularly organisations run by and for Black and minoritised women.


Rights of Women

October 2022











[1] Rowley, M (18 October 2022). Letter to Baroness Casey. Available at: https://www.met.police.uk/SysSiteAssets/media/downloads/met/about-us/baroness-casey-review/letter-from-commissioner-to-baroness-casey.pdf

[2] See the joint VAWG sector response to the Bill by End Violence Against Women and Girls, Latin American Women’s Rights Service, Rights of Women and Southall Black Sisters here: https://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Joint-briefing-on-the-PCSC-Bill-for-Committee-Stage-HoC-May-2021-final.pdf

[3] See the joint VAWG sector response to the Public Order Bill here: https://rightsofwomen.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/VAWG-statement-on-the-Public-Order-Bill-Sept-2022.pdf

[4] See the VAWG sector response to this Bill here: https://rightsofwomen.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Joint-VAWG-briefing-on-the-Bill-of-Rights-Bill-Second-reading-in-the-HoC.pdf See also the joint civil society briefing here: https://www.libertyhumanrights.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Joint-Civil-Society-Briefing-on-the-Bill-of-Rights-Bill-for-Second-Reading-in-the-House-of-Commons-September-2022.pdf

[5] Hamilton, F (28 September 2021). At least 15 women killed by police officers in past 12 years. The Times. Available at: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/at-least-15-women-killed-by-police-officers-in-past-12-years-6th8hmjt6

[6] Townsend, M and Heal, A (20 October 2021). Domestic abuse within police force to be investigated. The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/oct/20/domestic-abuse-within-police-force-to-be-investigated

[7] Symonds, T (13 October 2022). Inside the new Met police unit investigating officer abuse claims. BBC News. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-63162881

[8] Jayanetti, C (18 May 2019). Scale of police sexual abuse claims revealed. The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/may/18/figures-reveal-true-extent-of-police-misconduct-foi

[9] Casey Review Interim Analytical Report (October 2022). Available at: https://www.met.police.uk/SysSiteAssets/media/downloads/met/about-us/baroness-casey-review/baroness-casey-review-interim-report-on-misconduct.pdf

[10] For more information, see: https://stepupmigrantwomen.org/

[11] The London Rape Review (July 2019). Available at: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/london_rape_review_final_report_31.7.19.pdf 

[12] Crown Prosecution Service. Rape and Sexual Offences - Chapter 2: Applying the Code for Crown Prosecutors to Rape and Serious Sexual Offences. Available at: https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/rape-and-sexual-offences-chapter-2-applying-code-crown-prosecutors-rape-and-serious

[13] Ibid

[14] Ministry of Justice. The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime in England and Wales and supporting public information materials. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-code-of-practice-for-victims-of-crime

[15] Justice Secretary Robert Buckland recently apologised for the delays faced by rape victims, following challenge in the House of Commons. Labour MP Catherine West (Hornsey and Wood Green) asked Mr Buckland for his response to the fact that 44% of victims of rape walk away from the trial after “waiting months for their court date”. See: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/robert-buckland-david-lammy-house-of-commons-government-labour-b939726.html

[16] Big Brother Watch (2019). Digital Strip Searches. See: https://bigbrotherwatch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Digital-Strip-Searches-Final.pdf

[17] National Police Chiefs’ Council (2020). Police replace processing notice used to obtain agreement from victims and witnesses to search for relevant material on digital devices. Available at: https://news.npcc.police.uk/releases/police-replace-processing-notice-used-to-obtain-agreement-from-victims-and-witnesses-to-search-for-relevant-material-on-digital-devices

[18] [2020] EWCA Crim 790

[19] The Commissioner’s investigation found “no evidence’ of police officers considering less intrusive alternatives to mobile phone extraction”, and expressed concern that “considerations of necessity, proportionality and collateral intrusion were not, based on what we saw, sufficiently or routinely documented’. See: https://ico.org.uk/media/about-the-ico/documents/2617838/ico-report-on-mpe-in-england-and-wales-v1_1.pdf

[20] Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill Deb, 20 May 2021, c110

[21] Ibid

[22] Dodd, V (27 October 2020). Black people nine times more likely to face stop and search than white people. The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/oct/27/black-people-nine-times-more-likely-to-face-stop-and-search-than-white-people

[23] Dodd, V (3 December 2020). Young black males in London '19 times more likely to be stopped and searched'. The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/law/2020/dec/03/young-black-males-in-london-19-times-more-likely-to-be-stopped-and-searched

[24] Office of National Statistics. Sexual Offences in England and Wales: year ending March 2017. Available at https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/articles/sexualoffencesinenglandan dwales/yearendingmarch2017

[25] Office for National Statistics. Domestic Abuse in England and Wales, year ending March 2018. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/bulletins/domesticabuseinenglanda ndwales/yearendingmarch2018

[26] Clinical Audit and Registries Management Service. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Enhanced Dataset April 2018 to March 2019. Available at: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/information-standards/information-standards-and-data-collections-including-extractions/publications-and-notifications/standards-and-collections/scci2026-female-genital-mutilation-enhanced-dataset#current-release

[27] Home Office. Forced Marriage Unit Statistics 2018. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/869764/F orced_Marriage_Unit_Statistics.pdf

[28] Women’s and Equalities Committee (2017-19). Sexual Harassment of women and girls in public places. HC 701. Para 28. Available at https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmwomeq/701/701.pdf.

[29] Law Commission (2020). Hate crime laws: a consultation paper. Available at: https://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/lawcom-prod-storage-11jsxou24uy7q/uploads/2020/10/Hate-crime-final-report.pdf

A consultation paper. Paras 12.82-12.84 and 12.203. Available at: https://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/lawcom-prod-storage-11jsxou24uy7q/uploads/2020/10/Hate-crime-final-report.pdf

[30] We note that trans and non-binary people are one of the most hidden groups of victims of hate crime. A recent report by Galop found that four in five trans people had experienced a form of transphobic hate crime in the last year, and only one in seven had reported their experience to the police. While we note protections for trans people exist under a separate strand of hate crime, it is essential that any formulation of misogyny as a hate crime is accessible to the trans community, and that this position is secured in consultation with experts

[31]Law Commission (2020). Hate crime laws: a consultation paper. Available at: https://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/lawcom-prod-storage-11jsxou24uy7q/uploads/2020/10/Hate-crime-final-report.pdf

A consultation paper. Para 12.122. Available at: https://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/lawcom-prod-storage-11jsxou24uy7q/uploads/2020/10/Hate-crime-final-report.pdf. On trauma resulting from rape trials, see: C Waxman (2019), The London Rape Review. Available at: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/vcl_rape_review_-_final_-_31st_july_2019.pdf

[32] See the joint VAWG sector response to the Bill by End Violence Against Women and Girls, Latin American Women’s Rights Service, Rights of Women and Southall Black Sisters here: https://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Joint-briefing-on-the-PCSC-Bill-for-Committee-Stage-HoC-May-2021-final.pdf

[33] See the joint VAWG sector response to the Public Order Bill here: https://rightsofwomen.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/VAWG-statement-on-the-Public-Order-Bill-Sept-2022.pdf

[34] Howard League. Why the system is broken. Available at: https://howardleague.org/why-the-system-is-broken/.

[35] Respect (2021). Respect Responds to new VAWG Strategy. Available at: https://www.respect.uk.net/articles/142-respect-responds-to-new-vawg-strategy

[36] Ibid.

[37] Women’s Aid (2021). Many refuge spaces have no local authority funding. Available at: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/many-refuge-spaces-have-no-local-authority-funding/