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No Place for Violent Behaviour by Police Officers Towards Women, Says Surrey Police

Published on: 14 Mar, 2023
Updated on: 14 Mar, 2023

NPCC Police report on police Violence against women VAWG

“There is absolutely no place for this kind of behaviour in policing and it needs to be stamped out,” a senior Surrey police officer has said today in response to today’s national report on police violence against women and girls.

Today (March 14) a report published by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) looked at how forces across the country tackle police perpetrators of violence against women and girls (VAWG).

It collated cases from a six-month period as part of a commitment to report annually on how the police service is working to root out abusers, sexism and misogyny.

Statement from the senior officer responsible for national coordination of police action against Violence Against Women and Girls.

In Surrey, during the timeframe, there were 11 conduct cases involving VAWG with allegations ranging from the use of inappropriate language to controlling behaviour, assault, and domestic abuse.

Of these, two remain ongoing but nine have concluded with seven (77 per cent) resulting in sanctions – almost half of which barred those individuals from working in policing again.

Response to the published report from the chief executive of Women’s Aid

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Alison Barlow at Surrey Police said: “There is absolutely no place for this kind of behaviour in policing and it needs to be stamped out. The recent cases we have seen nationally have clearly damaged the trust that people, particularly women and girls, have in us as a service and it is vital we focus on rebuilding that.

“We are taking positive action in Surrey and where there is evidence of misconduct or criminal acts, by officers or staff, we will seek the strongest possible outcome. But we also know cases are historically under-reported so we need to continue to work hard in order that both the public and our own employees have the confidence to challenge behaviour and report any concerns.

“In 2020, we launched our Force Commitments which clearly set out the high standards and ethical behaviour we expect from everyone working in Surrey Police. In the same year we ran an internal campaign ‘Not in My Force’ lifting the lid on, and starting the conversation about sexism and misogyny within the workplace.

“We also have a dedicated team of anti-corruption officers whose job it is to proactively interrogate behaviour, and this is an area we will continue to invest in, so our organisation is not considered as a safe place for perpetrators to operate.”

Surrey Police also dealt with 13 complaints relating to VAWG during this period – 70 per cent of which related to use of force on arrest or whilst in custody and general service. In eight cases the service was found to be acceptable, one case was resolved, two required no further action and two remain not determined.

Michelle Blunsom, CEO of East Surrey Domestic Abuse Services, has worked closely with the Force to advise on tackling domestic abuse. She said: “I know that Surrey Police is committed to having a zero tolerance of perpetrators of domestic abuse. We also know that survivors have struggled to feel safe in reporting domestic abuse when their partner is a serving police officer or member of police staff.

“The very nature of domestic abuse means that it often goes on behind closed doors and that perpetrators often have a public and private face.

“We welcome Surrey Police’s proactive approach in tackling this complex and difficult issue and will continue to work with them to ensure that the lived experiences of those affected are heard. We also want to reassure survivors that the specialist Outreach Services in Surrey are completely independent of the police, and we want you to feel confident you can contact us if you are affected by these issues.”

The police statement included statistics of disciplinary cases “relating to VAWG” from October 2021 – March 2022)

Dismissed – 1

Final Written Warning – 1

Case to Answer – (resigned during investigation and added to police barred list) – 2

Case to Answer – referred to proceedings (resigned under investigation and added to police barred list) – 1

Reflective Practice Review Process – Practice Requiring Improvement – 2

No case to answer – 2

Cases are under ongoing investigation – 2

Total – 11

The total of 11 cases in Surrey, with its 2,121 officers, compares with a total of 653 in the UK’s police, comprising 45 territorial and five special constabularies or units with a total of 164,000 officers. (Source Statista, 2022 figures.)

Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend said that while Surrey Police has made great strides in tackling the issue within its own workforce, she has also commissioned an independent project aimed at building on the anti-VAWG culture.

Ms Townsend said: “I have been clear in my views that any police officer involved in violence towards women and girls is not fit to wear to wear the uniform and we must be unrelenting in rooting out perpetrators from the service.

“The vast majority of our officers and staff both here in Surrey and across the country are dedicated, committed and work around the clock to keep our communities safe.

“Sadly, as we have seen in recent times, they have been let down by the actions of a minority whose behaviour tarnishes their reputation and damages that public trust in policing which we know is so important.

“Policing is at a critical juncture where forces across the country are seeking to rebuild that trust and regain the confidence of our communities.

“Today’s NPCC report shows that police forces still have more to do to effectively tackle misogynistic and predatory behaviour in their ranks.

“Where there is clear evidence that anyone has been involved in this type of behaviour – I believe they must face the toughest possible sanctions including being sacked and barred from ever re-joining the service.

“In Surrey, the Force was one of the first in the UK to launch a VAWG strategy and have made great strides in tackling these issues and actively encouraging officers and staff to call out such behaviour.

“But this is too important to get wrong and I am committed to working with the Force and the new Chief Constable to ensure this remains a key priority going forward.

“Last summer, my office commissioned an independent project that will focus on improving working practices within Surrey Police through an extensive programme of work that is taking place over the next two years.

“Tackling violence against women and girls is one of the key priorities in my Police and Crime Plan – in order to achieve this effectively we must ensure that as a police force we have a culture that not only we can be proud of, but our communities too.”


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Responses to No Place for Violent Behaviour by Police Officers Towards Women, Says Surrey Police

  1. Mike Smith Reply

    March 16, 2023 at 6:24 pm

    I’m almost afraid to ask, but can Surrey Police confirm that they take violence towards men and boys just as seriously, or is it somehow a lesser offence? Wouldn’t it be better to avoid sexist language and just say “violence against anyone” is bad?

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