The University of Huddersfield recently hosted the first online academic policy engagement roundtable on the theme of Women and Girls Safety, in conjunction with the office of the Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), and the West Yorkshire Place-based Economic Recovery Network (PERN).
The event was opened by Alison Lowe, the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime in West Yorkshire, and brought together academics from across the UK, the West Yorkshire Police, and representatives from a large number of organisations who campaign for and support the safety of women and girls.
The roundtable built on the outcomes of an event convened by the Mayor on 7 September 2021 which brought together organisations from across West Yorkshire to discuss how they might help support this key pledge of the Mayoral manifesto.
Academics from universities from across West Yorkshire and elsewhere have committed to supporting evidence-based approaches policy and practice that inform the region’s Police and Crime Plan 2021-2024 that will drive policing and partnership efforts to support women and girls over the next three years.
Working in collaboration with the Combined Authority, PERN has commissioned an academic evidence review which is led by researchers from the None In Three Research Centre based at the University of Huddersfield.
The roundtable provided an opportunity for Acting Centre Director, Dr Nadia Wager, to discuss the initial evidence from this review. Her presentation explored how an evidence base could be developed that highlighted why women and girls are disproportionality affected by gender-based violence crimes.
She also discussed the extent to which current and established policies might exclude some women and girls and create barriers to positive outcomes for all women and girls. Dr Wager also assessed how policymakers might best place the victim/survivor at the centre of policy and practice and what ‘success’ in policy terms might look like for women and girl victims. Discussions were held amongst participants in response to the presentation, with participants highlighting a range of impactful research projects which will contribute to the development of policy in West Yorkshire.
“The discussions in the breakout rooms at the roundtable event gave valuable insight, and offered direction and focus for the review,” said Dr Wager. “With regards to working with survivors of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), there is often ambiguity and differences in how 'trauma-informed' practices are understood and delivered by different practitioners and services.
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“This leads to with concern that at times ill-informed practices might be even more traumatising for the survivors. It was reported that the focus on making victims the centre of efforts to tackle VAWG, when done in relation to prevention efforts, inadvertently places responsibility and blame on them rather than holding perpetrators accountable.
“There was recognition of the need for services to be end-user informed, and to overcome the barriers faced when accessing support in the aftermath of victimisation by some underserved groups of survivors. However, whilst the co-creation of policies and services is seen as vital, there are still concerns about how experts-by-experience might be safely engaged and supported in co-creation processes.”
Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime in West Yorkshire, Alison Lowe added: “We want to put West Yorkshire at the forefront of innovative and evidence-based interventions to stop violence against women and girls.
“That is why I am working, alongside the Mayor, with the University of Huddersfield and the None in Three (Ni3) Centre, to understand what works and how we can all work better together for women and girls.
“Placing survivors of violence at the centre of policy and practice and removing barriers to positive outcomes for women and girls is crucial and formed part of these discussions. We want to ensure we are effecting real change working with partners to deliver on the Mayoral pledge to support women and girls.”