South Yorkshire Police appoint 'specialist' to tackle violence against women after Sarah Everard murder

South Yorkshire Police has appointed a specialist to tackle violence against women and girls in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard.

Monday, 4th October 2021, 9:18 am

Natalie Shaw, who retired from South Yorkshire Police in 2019, is to return to the force today to lead the drive to reduce violence against women and girls on the streets of South Yorkshire and behind closed door.

The former Chief Superintendent, who was awarded a Queen’s Policing Medal for her devotion to duty as a police officer, was the force lead for domestic abuse before she retired.

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Natalie Shaw has been appointed by South Yorkshire Police to tackle violence against women and girls

She also had overall responsibility for safeguarding adults and children following the publication of a report into widespread child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

She was asked to return to South Yorkshire Police as part of the force’s response to the murder of Sarah Everard and violence against women and girls in general.

Sarah Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by serving police officer Wayne Couzens in London in March.

The 48-year old disgraced officer was handed a whole life order last week, meaning he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said the shocking crime showed ‘much more needs to be done’ to reduce violence against women’.

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South Yorkshire's Chief Constable, Lauren Poultney, said the force is committed to tackling the issue.

“Violence against women takes place in many guises and in many settings, behind closed doors at home and in full view in some public places. Here in South Yorkshire we have been listening to the voices of women about where they don’t feel safe, and understanding where interventions need to take place,” she said.

“We have provided our officers and staff with additional training around domestic abuse and added further scrutiny to our investigations around rape and serious sexual offences.

“As of Monday, we are investing further in our understanding as we have employed a dedicated specialist to drive our work to tackle violence against women and girls, ensuring we learn from others and bring the very latest thinking to the force. This will include the development of our understanding of cultural indicators and attitudes, and how we and others can bring real change to society.

“We are also looking at our own cultures within the force. SYP is assessed as being outstanding in ethical behaviour because we are rigorous in our checks, robust in our monitoring but mostly because we have created a culture in which colleagues will report their concerns. I am not prepared to rest on our laurels. We will maintain this rigour and ensure that those who operate amongst us have the very highest standards of integrity.”

Steve Kent, chairman of the South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation, said he hopes the murder of Sarah Everard will not stop people contacting the police when they are in need.

“All police officers up and down the country are utterly appalled at what has happened,” he said.

“This person’s actions utterly betray what our officers are here for, which is to protect and help people in society.”