THE disappearance and murder of Sarah Everard and other tragic cases have brought into sharp focus women’s experience of male-driven violence. Figures from the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) reveal more than half-a-million violence against women and girls (VAWG) crimes were recorded between October 2021 and March 2022 – representing at least 16 per cent of all recorded crime.

Just six per cent of these crimes were closed with a suspect being charged.

Clearly, we must make every part of the criminal justice work more effectively to end this injustice.  

With a typical rape case taking more than three years from offence to completion, even those survivors who see their attackers charged face unimaginable stress and trauma waiting for their day in court. All too often, the strain is too much and those cases collapse. This is unacceptable and in the words of former Victims’ Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird: “Justice delayed is often justice denied.”

We know that the VAWG crimes reported to police are just the tip of the iceberg. Many victims choose not to report. We also know that domestic and sexual violence isn’t just a women’s issue, and that men can also be victims of abuse.

Violence can affect anyone, anywhere, and is prevalent in every type of relationship including those involving only women or men. This is why since becoming Commissioner I have invested in the full range of specialist support services to help every victim in every circumstance, including the Halo Project that focuses on eliminating forced marriage, honour-based violence and female genital mutilation.

I have also driven action to ensure that more victims feel safe in coming forward to report violence, confident they will be listened to and that they will be given the support they need to seek justice.

Durham was one of the first forces in the country to take part in the Operation Soteria Bluestone national pilot, implementing a transformative new approach to rape investigations and prosecutions.

Durham is now one of the top performing forces in the country in the charging of rape and sexual offences - but we still have a long way to go.

I have also worked hard to embed a prevention-first culture so that we can work with our partners through education and awareness to tackle the root causes of VAWG offending.

My office has invested in bystander training, self-defence classes and perpetrator programmes. I recently secured a further £341,423 from the Safer Streets 5 Fund to invest in new CCTV and a VAWG engagement officer to roll out further bystander training to professionals.

Our partners, Durham County Council, are currently providing educational sessions for agencies to enhance knowledge around VAWG which members of our team will be attending.

Awareness campaigns like White Ribbon Day are important in supporting the prevention message.

We will be attending the night-time safety hub at St Nicholas’ Church in Durham City as part of the campaign to promote the support it provides for women and men who need help on a night out.

Violence against women and girls is never acceptable. Together, we can become allies and call out violence and abusive behaviour and demonstrate by action that it has no place in our society. If you or somebody you know needs support or help to escape violence, please visit:


  • Joy Allen is Durham's Police and Crime Commissioner