Great strides have been made but much work still remains to be done, says Alliance representatives, after police VAWG action plan update

Alliance Violence Against Women and Girls spokesperson Connie Egan MLA and Policing spokesperson Nuala McAllister MLA have said whilst great progress has been been made one year on from implementation of the PSNI’s Violence Against Women and Girls Action Plan for Northern Ireland, much more work remains to be done.

Nuala McAllister Connie Egan PSNI Violence Against Women and Girls
The action plan, created in September 2022, involved 41 actions the force set for themselves to build public trust and confidence, pursue perpetrators of gender-based violence, and work towards making spaces safer for women and girls.
Ms Egan said: “Tackling violence against women and girls remains one of the most pressing issues facing our society today, and so the implementation of this plan and the results we’re seeing one year in are more than welcome.
“Whilst great strides have been made in the last year, including the operationalising of new legislation such as our party leader Naomi Long’s Justice (Sexual Offences and Trafficking Victims) Act, it’s sadly the reality only some of the recommendations have been actioned when we really need all of them to be.
“To see the plan executed to the highest possible standard, it should be linked into a dedicated and fully-funded Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy from the Executive, with full buy-in from all the Executive Departments working together. Therefore it is essential we have a fully functioning Executive for this to happen.”
Ms McAllister added: “Of course we all have our part to play in combating gender-based violence, as legislators, as educators, as parents, and simply as members of society. The police however have an undeniably crucial role in engaging with both victims and perpetrators, and targeting resources in the most effective way possible to not only deal with incidents of VAWG when they occur, but also prevent them ever getting to that stage wherever possible.
“With that in mind it’s encouraging to see progress made on a number of commitments made within the action plan. For example, in the development of a new tool for tracking reports of crimes against women and girls to better target resourcing by location, the successful roll-out of the safeguarding ‘Ask for Angela’ scheme in over 350 licensed premises, and the establishment of an internal communications plan to ensure officers and staff in their own ranks can easily report inappropriate behaviour.
“What we need in order to see wide-reaching, long-term change however is the establishment of a dedicated VAWG Strategy, which we will continue to be denied progress on until, without reform of the institutions themselves, the DUP finally decide to put the needs of women and girls above their own interests and get back to work.”