Agenda item

Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy


Michelle Cunningham presented the report that provided Overview and Scrutiny Committee with an update on the areas of work associated with the Thurrock Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy 2020-2023. The current VAWG strategy and vision had been agreed by members of this committee in February 2020, a month before the Covid pandemic brought unrecognisable change to the world. The Community Safely Partnership through the VAWG Coordinator worked to ensure that all partners, both statutory and voluntary worked together to provide effective support and protection to victims, including children, and response to perpetrators. For many women and children who were experiencing VAWG crimes, staying at home was not a place of safety.

Councillor Redsell thanked Michelle Cunningham for another good report but stated there had only been one sentence about violence against Men and Boys and felt the strategy should be updated to reflect more information on this.


Councillor Redsell questioned how many places of safety were there in Thurrock to which Michelle Cunningham stated there was one refuge in the borough that supported victims individually. Councillor Redsell questioned was this enough to which Michelle Cunningham stated no concerns had been raised with her and that other options would be available to victims such as areas of safety outside the borough. Councillor Redsell questioned whether Thurrock would be used for refuge for victims from outside the borough to which she was informed that was the case for Women and Girls but currently no refuge space for Men and Boys. Members were informed that this was the case in a lot of authorities but there was national support through charities who offered refuge spaces for men but not locally.


Councillor Pothecary referred to number 6 of the executive summary of the assessment of the needs of Domestic Abuse Victims residing in Safe Accommodation in Thurrock that “no space/or capacity to support was the second most recorded reason for being refused safe accommodation” and asked for some clarification on this point. Michelle Cunningham stated that no women would not be supported at any time in a crisis, it may mean that the offer was not suitable or an offer that did not want to be taken up.


Councillor Pothecary stated in 2020/21 the solved rates of offences in Thurrock had gone down by 1.3% and questioned what steps could be taken by the Community Safety Partnership and the Police to improve those solved rates. Michelle Cunningham stated the Police were putting lots in place such as wearing body worn cameras which would allow them to take action rather than the witness having to come forward. The Community Safety Partnership supported and helped fund the Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy workers who supported victims through the whole of the court process. Through the CSP strategic board had discussions with SERICC on the reasons why victims who had come forward did not continue to court. A national change proposing to extend the time for victims to come forward. Michelle Cunningham stated it was important to listen to victims and this formed part of the new DA Duty to hold focus groups to talk and listen to and understand their journey to try and unpick where things could be done better or differently to get the victims to court.   


Councillor Redsell stated a lot of women were still out there who would not seek help and unfortunately there would be people out there that we would not hear off because of the potential reprisals of what might happen. Michelle Cunningham stated if members were aware of anybody and they were afraid to come forward they did not necessarily have to go to the Police, the housing safeguarding team and the community liaison officers worked with victims to put safety plans in place. This might not mean refuges, there were lots of options and the community officers would look at how that person could be safeguarded and put plans into place.


Councillor Pothecary referred to the priorities and proposed the word “disproportionality” be removed from that paragraph as it focused on Women and Girls and not Men and Boys and suggested it should read “Tackling violence on Women and Girls whilst recognised that Men and Boys can be victims”.


Councillor Liddiard thanked Michelle Cunningham for the very comprehensive report and questioned whether this crime was evenly spread across Thurrock or were there hot spots such as his Tilbury ward and this was the impression he got from this.  Councillor Liddiard stated it would be good to have a campaign of awareness events for those people affected in his ward. Michelle Cunningham stated that campaigns would be borough wide and unfortunately the outreach work that had been undertaken had been paused due to COVID. The CSP and housing safety safeguarding team were aware of those wards and Michelle Cunningham agreed to take this action point forward and make sure that some awareness events on domestic abuse were held in the priority wards


Councillor Rigby stated it was important that the strategy highlighted that it was important that Men and Boys were treated the same as Women and Girls. Michelle Cunningham stated that data testified that Women and Girls were more affected but those of Men and Boys and their families would be treated the same way, with the same support.


Councillor Snell referred to the characteristics of domestic abuse victims in safe accommodation and questioned whether some households were less likely to report or was this a true picture. Michelle Cunningham stated there was an issue of underreporting in all areas and for so many different reasons such as culture, age or fear. The data identified certain patterns and going forward what could be done with that data. Where it was underrepresented in some community’s increases in awareness and promoting those services may need to be undertaken.




Councillor Pearce questioned whether violence against Men and Boys had increased in Thurrock to which Michelle Cunningham stated she would check with SERICC and let members know.



1.    Note the progress on delivery of responsibilities detailed within the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 and scrutinise the recommendations.

2.    Provide comment on the proposed Thurrock Community Safety Partnership priorities in relation to VAWG for 2022/23. Members agreed to remove the word “disproportionality”.

3.    Note the key successes and the programme to deliver on the VAWG strategy for Thurrock 2020/23.

4.    Request that members champion the VAWG agenda and raise the profile of the services that are available to Thurrock residents


At 8.06pm, Michelle Cunningham and Cheryl Wells left the meeting.



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