Sarah Everard murder: five voices demanding police reform

Dame Vera Baird
Victims’ commissioner

If we are to truly turn the tide of male violence against women and girls, we need to see the government compel the police to act. This starts with the government promoting tackling violence against women and girls to the status of a national strategic policing requirement. This would compel every force in the country to treat it with the same urgency and priority as terrorism and county lines. It would afford it more resources, co-ordination from the highest levels and true leadership.

But change must start with the police. We know from recent investigations that over 800 allegations of domestic abuse have been made against police officers and staff over the past five years. ただ 43 cases were prosecuted, demonstrating that police don’t recognise the problem in their own ranks – let alone treat it with the seriousness it requires. This has to change urgently. I’m afraid the burden now falls to the home secretary to force the police’s hand.

Evie Hairsine
Founder of Our Bodies, Our Streets, a grassroots organisation in Sheffield

I think the police need to put listening first and be more transparent about the fact that things are going wrong. They should open up to a women-led advisory coalition of groups working in this area and make themselves vulnerable to being told what they need to do.

The biggest problem is within the police force itself. I think there should be immediate removal and suspension of any officer who’s suspected of committing an offence, before they do anything worse. I also think they need to make it a lot easier for officers to report suspected misogyny among their colleagues.

More training would be good, あまりにも. 警察 should make sure their ideas are informed by victims or groups like ourselves, who are working on the ground. We’re trusted in our community and we can help. They should listen to us. We want to hold them to account.

Jess Phillips
Shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding

British policing needs to, for the first time ever, prioritise violence against women and girls and include it as serious violent crime, with all the prevention strategies and resources that come with that.

Women’s complaints need to be handled better and more swiftly, with proper support. We also need more good old-fashioned community policing – the police need to go out and be visibly in support of women.Recruiting more women police would help, but it needs to be that when women police officers speak up, they don’t feel they’re risking their careers.

Without a culture of transparency and whistleblowing, and proper systems in place to make sure that complaints will be listened to, we’re just encouraging more women to work in a difficult environment. So there needs to be a cultural change within the police.

But the first thing they could do is take the crimes against us more seriously and not fail to take action against a police officer who’s flashing at people.

Meena Patel
Spokeswoman, Southall Black Sisters, a non-profit organisation supporting female victims of violence

We see a lack of trust among women that the police will ever do anything. Victims need to be better informed about all actions that the police are taking and what’s happening to their cases.

There are also problems about the way in which black and ethnic minority women are treated. The police need to ensure they are supported, as opposed to criminalising victims or asking them about immigration status.

I’d like to see the police engaging more with grassroots organisations like ourselves. We could give them examples of good practice and show them how they should be helping women to feel safer.

Police forces also need to demonstrate that they take robust action against officers when other officers complain about sexual assault or violence. If female officers don’t feel their complaints will be taken seriously, why would women outside the force feel they can trust the police?

Susannah Fish
Former chief constable of Nottinghamshire who suffered sexual assaults from colleagues

We need a public inquiry, on a similar scale to the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, and the home secretary needs to prioritise violence against women and girls as a national threat. She should put it on the National Risk Register at the same level as terrorism, and then provide resources accordingly.

The police selection process, which is sexist, racist and under-resourced, needs to change. We need a vetting process that probes individuals’ online presence and a recruitment and promotion process that properly tests their values and behaviours. Victims should be put at the heart of the investigation process. Forces should commission more independent domestic abuse advocates. They should investigate perpetrators, not victims.

We also need to transform and support whistleblowing practices. At the moment, nothing stays secret and they’re rarely used, especially by frontline officers, who become vulnerable and isolated if they complain about a colleague.