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Bedfordshire Police and our partners are working together to tackle perpetrators of violence or abuse against women and girls. Crimes which disproportionally affect females include rape and sexual offences, stalking and domestic abuse.
But we know that there are other behaviours which affect women and girls, too - cat-calling, inappropriate contact, misogyny, explicit messaging and groping, to name a few.
These behaviours may not all meet a criminal threshold, but they could be precursors for further offending. Either way, they make women and girls in Bedfordshire feel unsafe.
Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) is defined by the Home Office as acts of violence or abuse that we know disproportionately affect women and girls. The vast majority of these offences are committed by male perpetrators.
Crimes and behaviour covered by this term include rape and other sexual offences, domestic abuse, stalking, ‘honour’-based abuse, as well as many others, including offences committed online.
We remain committed to tackling all forms of abuse, supporting victims of any gender. We seek to bring to justice female offenders of any crimes and take these reports just as seriously.
Many of the behaviours and attitudes which make women and girls feel unsafe fall below the criminal threshold, yet patterns of behaviour need to change in order to make society a safer and more respectful place for all.
Recognising behaviours and crimes is key to stamping out misogynistic and abusive practices. A Crimestoppers campaign supported in Bedfordshire details some forms of unwanted sexual behaviour.
We are starting within our own force, by making clear that inappropriate conduct is not tolerated, and providing a safe space for colleagues who have witnessed or experienced sexual misconduct to come forward and report.
Remember, any form of sexual contact requires mutual consent, and it can only be given if the person is free and has capacity to give their consent.
Bedfordshire Police is giving survivors of rape and domestic abuse a platform to speak out and to have their voices heard, in a bid to raise awareness and encourage others to come forward.
The force is keen to support other survivors who feel comfortable and confident enough to come forward and tell their story.
All of these stories will be handled with the utmost sensitivity, and can be anonymised. Please contact Bedfordshire Police’s corporate communications team to discuss further.
Our approach to tackling MVAWG focuses on three key strands:
You can report information and crimes to police by calling 101, or speak to us through our web chat service.
If you have information but you want to remain anonymous you can speak up by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. In an emergency, always call 999.
We also support the StreetSafe tool, where anyone can anonymously tell us about public places where you have felt or feel unsafe.
This includes because of environmental issues, eg street lighting, abandoned buildings or vandalism and/or because of some behaviours, eg being followed or verbally abused.
Please note: 'StreetSafe' is not for reporting crime or incidents.
There is lots of support out there for women and girls in Bedfordshire.
If you have concerns about your partner, you can request information about them through the Clare’s Law scheme.
We are supporting the Hollie Guard app, a smartphone device that gives people a higher level of personal safety and security.
We are part of the Bedfordshire Domestic Abuse Partnership (BDAP) a collection of organisations working to help and support all victims of abuse.
You can find a full list of support services and how to contact them on the BDAP website.