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All 43 forces gathered to discuss police culture for tackling violence against women and girls

Representatives from 43 forces came together to attend the two-day Violence Against Women and Girls National Conference in Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Coventry, on 15-16 May.

Organised by the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), the aim of the conference was to improve internal culture and conduct and help force professional standards leads share innovative learning and practice.

A woman is killed by a man every three days in the UK. Domestic abuse makes up 18 per cent of all recorded crime in England and Wales. In the year ending March 2022, there were 194,683 sexual offences, of which 70,330 were rape.

NPCC stated: “Policing, and society, must focus on violence against women and girls so that it can be eradicated. The policing response has been shown to be inconsistent and so there is now a national focus on supporting forces to prioritise VAWG-related crimes.”

Deputy Chief Constable Maggie Blyth, NPCC lead for VAWG, said about the two-day conference: “This was vital CPD for our workforce responsible for tackling crime relating to VAWG offences and public protection investigations.

“There was essential input from those forces leading the way in tackling internal threat of PP DA and sexual assault and raising standards.

“Leading DA experts spoke and we heard from an internal survivor of police perpetrated abuse who is still a serving officer.

“The commitment from policing to ensure that we improve our service to victims of VAWG in society and within our ranks was very evident to me.

“Everyone from chief constables to the front line are determined to ensure there is a consistent response across forces, to improve investigations, be ruthless in the pursuit of those male perpetrators of these and to root out those who don’t belong in policing.

“We are investing resource and training in our public protection and professional standards teams as we build back trust in policing.”

Dr Fay Sweeting, lecturer at Bournemouth University and researcher into police abuse of position for a sexual purpose and corruption, shared the ongoing research into internal sexual misconduct and made a presentation to launch the national survey on police sexual misconduct on the second day of the conference.

Speaking on rebuilding trust in communities, Gavin Stephens, Chief Constable of Surrey Police and the NPCC chair, said: “Often we’re drawn into some of the specialist responses, but it’s important to remember that these issues need to be thought of by all colleagues, in all areas of the organisation.”

Since the creation of the joint College of Policing/NPCC VAWG taskforce 18 months ago, policing has worked hard to develop and implement national and local action plans to address the issue.

This second VAWG conference aimed to build on this work and demonstrate policing’s “increased commitment” to ensuring the service maximises its approach towards VAWG through knowledge sharing.

Superintendent Manjit Atwal QPM, head of delivery for VAWG at the College of Policing and a speaker at the conference, described the response within policing for the conference as “outstanding”.

She said: “A lot of hard work has been done in preparation by colleagues at the college to attract representatives from every force.”

“It’s only by being reflective and not passive we can change some of the culture within policing, and this conference represents another small step in the right direction,” Manjit Atwal QPM added.

“It’s an outstanding response to an extremely important issue and demonstrates how VAWG is near the top of every force’s agenda, and we are making tangible progress.”

(Source and Image: Police Professional and Twitter)

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