Research on gender equality policy has generally focused on actors and institutions at the national and international levels. This paper considers the role of local level actors and institutions in explaining different policy responses to violence against women and girls (VAWG). The literature on gender policy trajectories identifies the particular importance of executive actors in influencing ‘status policies’ like VAWG. Quantitative data is analyzed to show how local Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales have responded to demands for policy action. The focus is on the interaction between the 41 elected commissioners and the new institutional arrangements for police governance introduced in 2012. The paper shows that variation in policy outcomes is related (a) to the gender of executive actors, and (b) to the way in which actors interpret elements of the institutional framework, regardless of their own gender.