South Yorkshire Police vows to build 'call out culture' among ranks to regain public trust in combating violence against women

South Yorkshire Police wants the public’s help to create a ‘call out culture' among its own ranks and society to help combat violence against women.

Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 4:02 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 4:04 pm

National guidance was published today (December 15) to rebuild how police tackle domestic abuse, sexual offences and violence against women and girls.

And, one of the ways it aims to do this is rebuild public trust and confidence in the force by re-examining its own officers and create a culture of calling out misogynistic language.

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A new national framework has been published for how police should tackle violence against women and girls, starting with rebuilding public trust in the force.

SYP’s new strategic lead for violence against women and girls (VAWG) Natalie Shaw told The Star public trust has been damaged in the last year by the damning cases of Sarah Everard as well as Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry.

"There’s been a massive downturn in trust in the police force,” said Natalie.

“It’s now not only about building links with communities but also looking internally at the people we employ and have a strong ‘call out culture’.”

Damning cases like those of Sarah Everard, Nicole Smallwood and Bibba Henry have damaged public faith in the police's approach to violence against women, SYP strategic lead Natalie Shaw said.

The last 12 months have seen intense police scrutiny following cases like the abduction and murder of Sarah Everard by ex-officer Wayne Couzens, as well as when two London officers took photos of murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry.

Heavy criticism was levelled at the force’s internal culture and attitudes leading up to the case, such as how Couzens was reportedly nicknamed ‘the rapist’ by colleagues and demonstrated misogynistic attitudes towards women before his crimes.

"Police forces outside of the Met learned about wider details of the case the same time as everyone else,” said Natalie.

"I don’t think we fully understood the full impact it would have on policing trust of confidence. It became evident we needed to look internally.”

The framework will aim to build public trust and confidence, pursuing perpetrators through to conviction and creating safer spaces in the home, in public and online.

Natalie says other factors include the reception women and girls receive when reporting violence against them and how the drawn out justice process can cause victims to disengage with police.

Now, the new framework – entitled ‘Policing Violence Against Women and Girls – is a national policy to tackle the issue.

It is built around three ‘pillars’ of building trust and confidence in police again, pursuing perpetrators through to conviction and creating safer spaces in homes, in public and online.

The process will also lead to the force reviewing any allegations and complaints made against its own officers that were dropped and asking why they fell through.

Natalie Shaw

But while police forces are examining their own ranks, it is also asking the public’s help in creating the ‘call out culture’ among men in their lives.

"We don't want to alienate our male friends and colleagues - they are very much a part of the solution,” said Natalie.

"It's about creating male upstanders rather than bystanders. There's nothing more powerful than a male challenging misogynistic behaviour. Men can start those conversations at work, in the pub, at the football match and call out another man for his behaviour or lack of respect towards women.

"If a man is prepared to stand up and say something isn't acceptable, that's when we start to see the societal change."

Other approaches include asking women who have experienced male violence but who disengaged with police what should have been done.

Natalie added: "While violence against women and girls cannot be tackled by policing alone, we at South Yorkshire Police are determined to play our crucial part."