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What is VAWG?

The term Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) refers to acts of violence or abuse that we know disproportionately affect women and girls.

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.

Between 1 April 2022 and 31 March 2023, offences with a female victim (VAWG offences) increased 1.9% from 11,033 to 11,241. The largest proportion of offences with a female victim were stalking and harassment offences which saw a small rise of 0.4% from 3,557 to 3,543.

VAWG Annual Report 22/23

The Violence Against Women and Girls Scrutiny Panel was created to provide a victim-centred review of how Cumbria Constabulary deals with violence against women and girls. Its scrutiny aims to identify good practice and ways to improve the service Cumbria Police provides to victims, as measured against the Rights within the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime. The scrutiny panel is chaired and attended by the Cumbria Victims Charitable Trust with attendance from the Constabulary and the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.  The panel is fully supported by Cumbria Constabulary and set within the context of their work to transform the way they deal with violence against women and girls.

The first Violence Against Women and Girls Scrutiny Panel Meeting was held in October 2022. To promote how these panel meetings have supported and scrutinised Cumbria Police, an annual report has been developed for partners and the public.

Support Services

If you have experienced violence, there are services available to you to support you to cope and recover. These services are free and can be accessed whether you have reported the incident to the Police or not, historical, or recent.

Women’s Centres

  • Women’s Community Matters, Barrow, can help with issues like domestic and sexual abuse, benefits and housing issues and mental wellbeing. They can also provide information on other services that can help you. They are open Monday 9.30am – 4pm, Tuesday 9.30am – 6pm, Wednesday30am – 4pm, Thursday 9.30am – 6pm, Friday 9.30am – 1pm and can be reached on 01229 311102.
  • Gateway 4 Women, Carlisle, provides support on issues like domestic abuse, mental wellbeing, homelessness, housing etc. and can also provide information on other domestic and sexual abuse services. They are open Monday – Thursday 9.30am – 4.30pm, Friday 9.30am – 1.00pm. They can be called on 01228 212090

Victim support Cumbria

Open Mon – Fri, 9am-6pm and can be reached on 0300 303 0157. The national 24/7 helpline is 0808 1689 111. Victim Support can help with any time of crime including domestic abuse and give advice that is completely private. If you cannot speak, Victim Support also has a 24/7 online chat on their website,

The Bridgeway Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC)

The Bridgeway Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) provides coordinated, forensic, counselling and aftercare services to anyone who has experienced rape or sexual assault. The Bridgeway is open 24/7, 365 days a year and can be contacted on 0808 118 6432.


Cumbria Constabulary currently has 75 VAWG Champions.

Over the past year, the Constabulary have been providing training to all front line staff, supervisors and partners around the nuances of VAWG.

Not only have they promoted best practice in terms of investigation of VAWG offences, but they have also been educating and encouraging reflective and proactive practice around those behaviours and attitudes which act as pre-cursors to the VAWG offences they want to eradicate.

Case studies around the behaviours and attitudes of disgraced police officers Wayne Couzens and David Carrick have been hard hitting, and when delivered in conjunction of professional standards have worked towards improving culture, and encouraging reporting of anything remotely similar.

Cumbria Police have seen an increase in the reports received by PSD in direct correlation to our training because officers are understanding what the nuances mean.

Cumbria Police, specifically DI Belshaw and DC Hayward have been nominated for a national policing award for this training package, winning the North West Regional area stage for improving culture internally.

Those officers who have been touched by the training, or had a personal interest in VAWG prior to the training have been encouraged to volunteer to be part of the VAWG movement, and over the past year 75 officers have joined Detective Inspector Belshaw on this mission. This equates to 5% of the whole Cumbrian workforce, and the numbers continue to grow.

The Champions are volunteers and whatever work they do is on top of their day job, and so these numbers are truly reflective on what VAWG means to Cumbrian Police officers.

VAWG Champions actively work to improve culture internally, call out inappropriate behaviour, and act as knowledge hubs within areas of policing to assist with VAWG Investigations.

Detective Inspector Belshaw has ensured that VAWG Champions received extra bespoke training to ensure that they are better prepared to deal with victims of VAWG, and in turn influence their peers or staff in their investigations, thinking, self-reflection and professional curiosity.

This Champions training has ranged from hearing from victims with lived experience of VAWG, to learning about the benefits of breathing techniques to assist with victims suffering trauma.

VAWG Champions have been aligned to many partner agencies to improve our service to victims, and all commissioned women’s centers across the county have VAWG Champions working directly with them, as do our women’s only asylum hotels. The Carlisle Welfare Hub, Force Control Room, Safeguarding Hub, Neighbourhood policing teams, CID Offices, Training School, Professional Standards department and many other areas of policing within Cumbria now have VAWG Champions within them, ensuring that the VAWG message is constantly reinforced, and any issues relating to VAWG are quickly identified and addressed.

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