Hundreds of decision-makers from across Wiltshire have come together and vowed to tackle the horrors that numerous women and girls in the county face.

The Violence Against Women and Girls conference took place on Monday, December 4 at Tidworth Barracks, and Wiltshire Council, emergency services and the military were all in attendance.

The conference comes after a 2022 survey by Wiltshire Police showed that a third of women in the county who have been victims of crime have not reported it.

Of these, 48 per cent said they did not report the crime as they felt they would not be taken seriously.

Claire Marshall, CEO of FearLess, said the results make for "harsh reading".

Since then, Wiltshire Police say they have been making an active effort to reach out to women and girls.

 “Violent and sexual crimes against women and girls cause great concern in our communities and both the Chief Constable and I have prioritised focus in this area," said police and crime commissioner Philip Wilkinson.

“Currently we are seeing improved outcome rates for rape and sexual assault offences but there is still more work to do.”

The force ran a survey last year asking women and girls about their experiences reporting violence and asking how they could be improved.

“We had a huge response, with over a thousand people taking part, but what we didn’t get was the voice of women of colour, women with a disability, the elderly and the young," explained Gemma Vinton, detective chief inspector for Wiltshire Police.

"One of the reasons for this, I believe, is that the confidence of some demographics of women and girls in policing and the wider criminal justice system is understandably low,” she admitted.

Disabled women are just one group who are twice as likely to have experienced domestic abuse and have historically experienced high levels of sexual assault, but with lower criminal justice outcomes.

Becky Peters, an English teacher from Swindon who spoke at the event, said:

"I think the conference is a fantastic idea because ignoring the fact that violence against women and girls exists, is a way to perpetuate that violence.

“So addressing it, understanding it, talking about it and then inviting people who don't normally get to speak and be listened to and be heard by so many organisations is a wonderful thing to do."

Holly, an A-level student from Swindon who also took part in the discussion panel added:

"I'd urge people to start communicating with each other. If you hear something that's wrong call it out,” added Holly, an A-level student from Swindon who took part in the discussion panel.

“Even if you feel afraid to do it, even if it's just with family or friends, speak out about it because that really could make a difference."