Police forces will put a “relentless focus on perpetrators” in an attempt to tackle soaring levels of violence against women and girls, according to the new national police chief.
Maggie Blyth, deputy chief of police for the Hampshire police, spoke at the joint conference of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners on Thursday, who was appointed to the new role of national police chief for violence against women and girls. five weeks ago, acknowledged that trust between women and the police had been “broken through some of the tragic events of the last few weeks and months”.
Blyth said she had drawn up a two-year plan to transform how forces tackle crimes against women and girls, following Sabina Nessa, 28, and Sarah Everard, 33, and the sentencing of a serving police officer for the murder of Everard.
“Our first focus, our first pillar, is on the ruthless focus of the perpetrators and our police response largely around the perpetrators,” she said. The “perpetrator-focused approach is currently being tested in Avon and Somerset and involves attempts to disrupt and track suspected sex offenders, including rapists, instead of focusing on the credibility of the victims.
Blyth was appointed in September following a highly critical report by the police watchdog, which warned that England and Wales were facing a “national epidemic of violence against women and girls”.
She told officers at the conference that police needed to act quickly to rebuild trust, saying there were “immediate police improvements that mean action is needed in the next few weeks immediately”.
The police were “very much in a state of listening, and that’s really important … because of the decline in trust and confidence,” she said, adding: “We will not move forward at all in any of our police work and our broader partnership work on violence against women. and girls, if we do not make a change and rebuild the trust that we know has been broken through some of the tragic events of the last few weeks and months. ” That work should focus on “culture and behavior and behavior,” she added.
During a panel discussion on violence against women and girls, who noted that “the killing of Sarah Everard by a police officer has given rise to widespread concerns about women’s safety and men’s violence, as well as raised serious issues of culture, control and recruitment across service “, The victims’ commissioner, Dame Vera Baird, posed a direct challenge to the assembled officers.
She said the treatment of violence against women and girls in the police had “no central direction, no central resources, but it kills a woman every three days”.
Baird called for an overhaul of the police culture, to give more status to officers who specialize in tackling violence against women, and for the VAWG to become a strategic police priority, such as terrorism, to give the problem central direction and extra resources, especially for specialists . .
“Ask yourself, after 30 reviews and 30 years of women’s voices raised against violence against women and girls: Why are you still not politicizing it properly?” she said. “Don’t you owe it to the public to see it and change culturally around by 180 degrees and start leading us out of this epidemic of violence against women and girls?”
It comes after a YouGov poll on behalf of the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) coalition found that 47% of women and 40% of men said their trust in the police had fallen since the verdict against Everard’s killer, Wayne Couzens. About one in three said they continued to trust the police.
EVAW Director Andrea Simon told officers: “We are concerned … there has been a relatively rapid leap towards various initiatives that appear to be aimed at improving public perception of policing before a significant transformation and improvement of our criminal justice response takes place. “