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.
Why ‘male violence against women and girls’?
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.
Respect and consent
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.
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.
What we are doing?
Our approach to tackling MVAWG focuses on three key strands:
Pursuing perpetrators by taking a zero tolerance approach to violence, harassment and abuse against women and girls through Project Firefly.
Working with support groups, communities and partner agencies to help support women through our HER (Help – Engage – Rehabilitate) initiative.
Supporting our staff and demanding high standards through our Blue Bell internal support group.
We want to understand your views and give us the evidence to take action where it can be most effective. Complete our survey.
How can I report unwanted contact, sexual harassment, or violence?
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.
Where can I get help?
There is lots of support out there for women and girls in Bedfordshire.