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Chief Constables discuss male violence against women

15 Mar 2021

Police chiefs from across the country met earlier to discuss male violence against women.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Chair Martin Hewitt said:

“All chief constables met this afternoon to discuss male violence against women and the experiences and fears that women have shared since Sarah Everard’s tragic murder. 

“While being abducted from the street is incredibly rare, violence at the hands of men is not.  We hear the anger about the pernicious harassment experienced by women that limits their freedoms.

“This is a moment for us to reflect as a society on what we can do to reduce male violence, abuse and harassment.  Many of the solutions lie outside of policing but chiefs were clear and committed today that the police have an important role to play.

“A key issue for policing and the criminal justice system is the effectiveness of our response to violence against women, particularly rape and other sexual offences, domestic abuse and stalking.

“Too few victims are seeing their cases go to court.  For those that do, the experience is long and difficult.  This has a serious impact on their confidence in the police and in the criminal justice system and means too many perpetrators get away with their crimes.

“We have contributed to and are waiting for the outcomes of the cross-Government rape review, which has been working to understand and address the reasons behind falling rape prosecutions.  In the interim, we have launched and are implementing a Joint National Action Plan with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).  It includes action to improve support for victims, help officers build strong cases from the outset and increase the knowledge and expertise of our officers and staff. There are promising signs as the referrals of rape to the CPS are starting to rise.

“We have implemented a Domestic Abuse Best Practice Framework with the CPS, and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service that aims to drive up prosecutions. We are increasing the use of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, obtaining more Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) and Domestic Violence Protection Notices (DVPNs) at court and strengthening the vital multi-agency collaboration to tackle offenders’ behaviour and improve the safety of victims. 

“Chiefs reaffirmed their commitment to the work already underway to improve our support to victims of rape and domestic abuse and help them get justice.  We agreed in the coming weeks to talk to our partners, victims’ groups and experts about what more can be done.

“We also agreed, again working with experts and partners, to consider carefully the role police could play in responding to street harassment. As part of this we agreed we need to further assess the calls for misogyny to be treated as a hate crime.  The Law Commission is due to make final recommendations on this issue later this year and parliament will be debating the case for police forces recording where existing crimes are believed to be motivated by hatred of someone’s sex or gender.

"We share the commitment of all those who want to see a legacy of meaningful change come from the truly tragic death of Sarah Everard and we will carefully consider in the coming weeks how we, as police leaders, can contribute to that legacy.”