Today the NPCC has published data that highlights national progress in tackling violence against women and girls. The report covers data supplied by police forces across the UK, for the period between October 2021 and March 2022. The national programme of work to tackle violence against women and girls aims to ensure all forces have consistently high standards to support women and girls to prevent them experiencing violence, intimidation and abuse.
In Merseyside we are absolutely committed to keeping women and girls safe and feeling safe and it remains at the forefront of our work.
Some of the headline figures from the NPCC report are alarming, particularly those figures concerning police-perpetrated abuse.
Our figures show that since October 2021 to February 2023 46 complaints and 44 misconduct allegations against police officers and staff were flagged as relating to violence against women and girls.
In the last six months (between September 22 and February 2023) we recorded 22 unique cases and 32 allegations. This equates to 0.5% of the workforce.
I want to assure you that we are working hard to root out those in the minority who do not adhere to the standards and behaviours I expect from my officers and staff. From more effective vetting, to encouraging everyone internally and those who come into contact with our force to call out any inappropriate behaviour. I understand how hard that can be, but I can guarantee that any allegations will be taken seriously, and they will be fully supported.
I am working with other Chief Constables across the UK to better identify wrongdoing by reviewing all current allegations of sexual misconduct fully and quickly, strengthening vetting and misconduct investigations and toughening sanctions to make sure they meet the gravity of offences committed.
Explaining and talking about this is really important and action matters too. I know you want to see improvements; I know women and girls want to feel safe across Merseyside and to trust and have confidence in police officers and staff at Merseyside Police.
We want that too. The ability for everyone to feel safe in Merseyside is absolutely paramount.
As I said, taking action matters and our work continues relentlessly and at pace.
We are working hard, with our partners, including the five local authorities, the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Crown Prosecution Service, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, our universities, and the wonderfully committed charities and third sector we have in our region, every day, to tackle and prevent violence and intimidation against women and girls and to earn the trust of our communities.
The list below is nowhere near exhaustive, but it does give a good indication of the work we are progressing, day in, day out.
- We are listening to women and girls and have held several sessions with survivors to better understand their journey and to increase the awareness of officers who work with them. We have also commissioned our biggest survey to date, and phenomenally 4,000 women and girls across Merseyside have taken part in the survey to help us better understand their feelings of safety in the places they live, work and socialise, so that we can address their concerns
- We are working with schools to educate schoolchildren on the impact behaviours can have on others and what is and isn’t acceptable
- We work closely with our partners on a number of campaigns to make women and girls that work, live and visit our city feel safer. We also hold a number of meetings to ensure that victim-survivors voices are considered in everything we do
- We have introduced further enhanced training for all staff to ensure that they are able to deal with all eventualities relating to domestic abuse, rape and other crimes against women and girls. We also hold regular intensification periods, which allows officers to focus on best practice in order to improve all aspects of a survivor’s journey from first call through to prosecution
- Commissioned a review of how we look after victims of rape and investigate the crimes against them, from the moment the police are called, so that our call handlers, first response, UNITY team investigators and every single person involved in supporting victims and bringing offenders to justice has the skills and approach that the public expect from us
- Reviewed and identified learning from complaints against officers related to violence against women and girls
My officers and staff work tirelessly to ensure that Merseyside is a safe place to live, work and socialise. There is still work to do and as a force we will continue to learn and develop so that keeping women and girls safe, and feeling safe, remains at the forefront of our work. We are improving. We will keep improving but we recognise that there is still more to do.