Crime figures reveal the risks women face in Cambridgeshire

The death of Sarah Everard has triggered a public outcry about the safety of women and how offences against them are dealt with.

Saturday, 20th March 2021, 4:55 am
Domestic abuse. Stock image.

An analysis of figures from Cambridgeshire Constabulary reveals the risks that women face, with murder, rape and abuse contributing to what campaigners describe as a deadly ‘global pandemic’ of violence against women.

The most recent official statistics at police force level show that eight women and girls were killed in the area between April 2016 and March 2019.

According to a report from the Femicide Census, a research and campaigning organisation, 16 of those killed in Cambridgeshire in the decade to 2018 were females aged over 14. They were all killed by men.

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And Cambridgeshire Constabulary figures show that there were more than 700 reports of rape on women and girls in just one year.

Home Office statistics show that women are disproportionately impacted by sex crimes and are more likely to be victims of stalking, harassment and domestic abuse than men.

A spokeswoman for Rape Crisis called for radical action in the fight to end violence against women and warned that the scope of the problem is much higher than official figures suggest.

Of the 830 reports of incidents of rape recorded in Cambridgeshire in the year to March 2020, 91 per cent involved female victims, as did 83 per cent of 800 sexual assaults dealt with by the force in that time.

There were also more than 10,000 individual crimes flagged as domestic abuse by officers in that period – if they were all against separate people it would be the equivalent of 13 in every thousand people being violently or psychologically abused by someone they know.

Figures for the whole of England and Wales show that at least two-thirds of domestic abuse victims in that period were female.

More than 70 per cent of the 2,075 women and girls killed in the decade to March 2020 knew their murderer, compared to almost half of the male murder victims. Women are more likely to be killed in a domestic setting, while men are commonly killed on the streets.

Domestic abuse has increased during the coronavirus lockdowns but a Rape Crisis spokeswoman said: “Violence against women and girls is a global pandemic that long pre-exists Covid-19.

“In this country alone, it severely and negatively impacts millions of lives, communities and society as a whole – and it is deadly.

“The vast majority of it is never reported to the police and when it is, it rarely ends in criminal justice being served.”

She called on society to come together to “end the narrative that tells women they are responsible for preventing male violence and instead tell perpetrators and potential perpetrators that we will not tolerate violence against women and girls any longer.”

Surveys suggest that women and girls are also regularly harassed in public, with a recent YouGov poll for UN Women finding that at least seven out of 10 in the UK had experienced sexual harassment on the street.

Official statistics do not reflect the scale of this specific issue but do show that Cambridgeshire officers investigated 2,262 harassment allegations and 337 stalking cases.

The most recent Crime Survey for England and Wales found that almost one in five women had been stalked, compared to fewer than one in 10 men.

Home Secretary Priti Patel urged people to share their views with the Government after thousands shared their experiences of violence and abuse following the death of Sarah Everard.

She said: “So many of you have bravely shared your own experiences of harassment, abuse and violence online over recent days, so today I am re-opening our nationwide call for views on tackling violence against women and girls. The government is listening.

“Everyone should be free to walk our streets without the slightest fear. With Sarah and her family in my thoughts and prayers, I will continue to do all I can in my role as Home Secretary to protect women and girls.”