Forces must be unrelenting in rooting out the perpetrators within their ranks” – Commissioner responds to report on violence against women and girls in policing

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey Lisa Townsend said police forces must be unrelenting in rooting out perpetrators of violence against women and girls (VAWG) within their ranks following a national report published today.

The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) found more than 1,500 complaints were made against police officers and staff across the country relating to VAWG between October 2021 and March 2022.

During that six month period in Surrey, there were 11 conduct cases 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 resulting in sanctions – almost half of which barred those individuals from working in policing again.

Surrey Police also dealt with 13 complaints relating to VAWG during this period – the majority of which related to use of force on arrest or whilst in custody and general service.

The Commissioner 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.

Lisa 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.

“This will involve a series of projects aimed at continuing to build on the anti-VAWG culture of the Force and working with officers and staff for long-term positive change.

“This is the first time a project of this kind has been carried out within Surrey Police and I see this as one of the most important pieces of work that will be undertaken during my tenure as Commissioner. “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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