December 10, 2021 11:05 AM

The Liberal Democrat motion calling on Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) to take action to end Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), was debated and agreed at Cabinet Panel for Adult Care, Health and Wellbeing on Wednesday 8 December despite an attempt by leading Tories to weaken the message.

The Lib Dem motion seeks a number of actions to end the 'epidemic' of male violence against women and girls, in support of a call from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services for 'fundamental cross-system change'. Key amongst the requested actions is that the Leader of the Council calls on the Home Secretary and Prime Minister to declare Misogyny to be a Hate Crime and for Hertfordshire Police to record it as such. It also calls upon the Leader to ask the Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable for Hertfordshire what steps they are taking to review internal safeguarding and vetting procedures following the sentencing of a serving police officer on 30 September 2021.

Cllr Sally Symington, proposer of the motion, said; "The report to Cabinet Panel concerned a separate motion already agreed and passed at Full Council on Domestic Abuse and referenced VAWG only once. Whilst I commend the work HCC is doing to tackle Domestic Abuse in all its forms, the impact of male violence against women and girls is felt from cradle to grave and in all settings. It is essential, that by focusing exclusively on Domestic Abuse, HCC does not lose sight of the important overarching and cross-agency actions required to end VAWG".

"I am delighted that the Lib Dem amendment to ensure our proposed actions are reviewed in February was passed by a cross-party majority. This issue cuts across party, across gender and across generation. We need to work together to end the pernicious impact of VAWG and this involves engaging with all agencies and stakeholders so that we truly do take the steps required to end VAWG in Hertfordshire".

Cllr Helen Campbell, who seconded the motion, added; "This vital motion should have been debated in Full Council, but was instead referred to the Panel. While Domestic Abuse is an abhorrent crime and while the council is doing some very good work in that important area, it was disappointing to see the spirit and intent of the motion, and the much broader and deeper issues within it, eclipsed by process."

"There is consistently far too much focus on the clothing, travel and social choices of women and girls who feel unsafe, but VWAG is not their problem to solve. It is men's problem and it is society's problem, and it starts with education and the right conversations with boys and young men, I look forward to hearing more in February on how the county council is going to lead on stamping it out."