A retired South Yorkshire Police Chief Superintendent South Yorkshire Police is heading a new ‘Violence against Women and Girls Statement of Intent’ to tackle domestic violence across South Yorkshire. 

Natalie Shaw, who earlier this year revealed she herself was a domestic abuse victim, will lead the initiative alongside the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit.

Mrs Shaw said: “It took me to the point of being beaten and strangled to know I needed to get out, I just didn’t know how.”

“If my story gives anyone else the confidence either to report to us or to tell someone to get the help they need, then I’ll be glad to have told it.”

The statement of intent highlights the need for a change in male attitudes and behaviours and calls for the dismantling of “long term systematic factors which encourage and enable violence against women and girls.”

The unit’s 10-part plan includes improving the confidence of victims to report incidents, taking factors such as disability, gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity into account and improving their own organisational cultures by addressing inappropriate attitudes and behaviours within the police. 

Lauren Poultney, Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, addressed the organisations: “We must say ‘No More’ to the everyday microaggressions faced by women, all women.

“Any tolerance of this level of abuse lowers the bar, it normalises unacceptable behaviour and makes it even more challenging for the woman or girl to speak out.

 “That is why I give our commitment and call upon others to give theirs, to be an upstander not a bystander in challenging such behaviours.”

From March 2019 to March 2020, 90% of rape cases recorded in South Yorkshire involved female victims and, in that time, more than 20,000 crimes were flagged as domestic abuse by officers. 

Graham Jones, Head of the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit said: “Violence Against Women and Girls has a terrible impact directly on victims, and indirectly on other women and girls who too often do not feel safe in our communities. Addressing this issue is a priority for the Violence Reduction Unit.”

Amongst the 26 organisations who showed their support were Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Hallam University, Voluntary Action Sheffield and Sheffield Adult Safeguarding Partnership.