In 2012/13, 76 women died at the hands of a violent partner or ex-partner - that may be the lowest number since 1998/9, but more work needs to be done. The Home Office’s latest policy paper, A call to end violence against women and girls: action plan 2014, details the progress that has been made, and future plans.
As well as spending £40 million on domestic and sexual violence specialist services, its This is Abuse campaign is continuing to educate young people about damaging behaviours in relationships - with a new focus on reaching young males.
Another focus is eradicating the practice of female genital mutilation. Engaging with at-risk communities is vital to combat this crime, and the launch of a FGM phoneline to report it is a positive step. The government is also processing legislation to criminalise forced marriage.
Other measures include funding to train staff to recognise and help victims of stalking, and better protection of children and young people online, so they can avoid sexual abuse and intimidation.
Early intervention is crucial to stop escalation of abuse and violence, which is the focus of the action plan. The government will be reviewing the impact of all this work in March 2015, and by this time frontline professionals (e.g. teachers, doctors, nurses and midwives, police and prosecutors) should be better able to identify and deal with violence against women and girls at an early stage. Outcomes it expects to see delivered are outlined in each chapter of the policy document.