Make combating violence against women a police priority, says victims tsar

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Police forces should be compelled to tackle violence against women and girls with the same level of resources, expertise and urgency as terrorism or organized crime, said the victims commissioner for England and Wales.

After Sarah Everard’s killer was sentenced to life on Thursday, activists said there was growing frustration and it was time to act.

Vera Baird said violence against women and girls should become a strategic police requirement to give the problem central focus and additional resources, especially for specialist officers, so that it doesn’t there was “no doubt about the obligations of the police towards the victims”.

She said: “There are a lot of unanswered questions about how violence against women and girls is controlled and I think if we have this clear requirement it sends a clear message that combating violence against women and girls is controlled. violence is a priority. “

Baird said requirements for agencies to thoroughly investigate and take action in cases of violence against women could be included in the victims bill, which the Guardian said was ready to be consulted before the new justice secretary, Dominic Raab, takes office.

“Without it, it will only get confused, ignored as if it were a low level crime,” she said. “We have seen in this terrible case that what is considered a low-intensity crime against women and girls can mark a predatory attitude towards them which can quickly escalate if left unchecked. “

Labor leader Keir Starmer has led calls for an investigation into how Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens, a Metropolitan Police officer who had been reported for indecent assault three times, “passed between mesh of the net ”. ” [We] I have to understand why this happened and if there were any speculations when reviewing his previous wrongdoing, ”he said.

Labor MP Yvette Cooper went further, calling for a full independent investigation into violence against women and girls in law enforcement.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said there were “serious questions the Metropolitan Police must answer” while supporting Met Commissioner Cressida Dick.

The director of the Good Law Project, Jolyon Maugham, called for a public inquiry into “how the cultural failings of the police and the criminal justice system as a whole contribute to the murder or rape of tens of thousands of women each year”. He said, “Enough is really enough. How many women still have to die?

Baird’s appeal echoed the recommendation for a thorough and damning review by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Police and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICSFRS), which found “problems, inequalities and inconsistencies ”in tackling the“ epidemic ”of violence against female victims in the UK.

It was released as news emerged that primary school teacher Sabina Nessa was found dead in a park near her south London home. A man appeared in court charged with his murder.

According to the Counting Dead Women project, led by Karen Ingala Smith, 80 women were killed between the death of Everard in March and Nessa on September 17.

Sector activists said there was a growing sense of anger and frustration that promises of change did not result in greater security for women.

Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said a public inquiry into men’s violence against women and girls would likely reveal other institutional and government failures, but was unlikely to lead to the action needed.

There was already a wealth of evidence and recommendations in the Police Inspectorate’s report, the recently released government strategy on violence against women and girls (VAWG) and the rape review. , Nazeer said. “We all know what to do. But making it a priority, choosing to prioritize funding in this area, choosing to make this cultural shift – these are political choices we are not making.

Women’s groups hailed what some saw as an increased level of restraint in reporting the Couzens trial, with many publications choosing not to feature a prominent photo of the killer, while BBC Radio 4’s Today program chose to mention Couzens by name sparingly in his reports. Thursday and included the full victim impact statement of Everard’s mother, Susan.

“We find that the experience of women is so often lost when we talk about the impact of male violence against women and girls,” said Jayne Butler, Managing Director of Rape Crisis England and Wales. “We are pleased that some outlets have chosen to focus their coverage on Sarah. “

Andrea Simon, director of the End Violence Against Women coalition, said despite criticism and promises of change since Everard’s murder, little had changed.

“Violence against women and girls is at an epidemic level, the police inspectorate said the whole system needs an overhaul, the government has already apologized for the low rate prosecution for rape. What more do we need to find out? In fact, we just need to do something about it, ”she said. “We’ve had all of this criticism, and we haven’t seen any significant change. We must continue to make a difference now. “

Protection Minister Rachel Maclean said the government is committed to radically changing the way violence against women and girls is approached with a systems approach. She said the VAWG strategy released this summer sets out “the government’s ambition to increase support for survivors, bring perpetrators to justice and ultimately reduce the prevalence of violence against women and children. girls ”.

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