Challenge male violence against women and girls

October 28 2021
Challenge male violence against women and girls

Avon & Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Shelford writes for the Voice

AS I mentioned in my last column, I am pleased to announce that I have taken on the role as national lead PCC for the Economic and Cybercrime portfolio. As the new lead, I will spearhead the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners' (APCC) work to ensure the police are tackling online crime, fraud, harassment, hacking, economic crime and identify theft.

One in ten people fall victim to fraud and one in three become a repeat victim. It is because of such figures that I was inspired to take on this role as I feel it is an area of work where I can make the most difference to the lives of local people in Avon and Somerset and beyond.

Cybercrime and fraud are two of the most fast-growing crime types in the country, almost doubling every year. In fact, both crimes are growing so quickly that according to the Office for National Statistics, people are more likely to be a victim of fraud or cybercrime than any other crime. Ultimately, we need to get a grip of it and protect vulnerable people from harm.

Over the coming months, I will be working closely with regional and national partners to improve the police response to this ever-evolving and complex area of crime.

I also wanted to discuss a matter that I know has been of great concern to many local people, more so in recent weeks: male violence against women and girls.

The threat of abuse, misogyny, intimidation and violence that women face every day has become wrongly accepted in communities as the ‘norm.’

Following the appalling murder of Sarah Everard, I have read with absolute horror on social media and in the news, the precautions and preventative steps that women and girls take every day of their lives to protect themselves and, still, such actions do not always keep them safe.

A change is needed. Now is the time to put the onus back on the offender and actively challenge their behaviour. Collaboration of statutory agencies and partners is essential to tackle the attitudes, behaviour and, ultimately, criminal activity of perpetrators who are violent towards women and girls.

Change is also needed within the police and criminal justice system and that is why I am supportive of the Home Office’s inquiry into issues raised by Wayne Couzens’ conviction. Sarah’s murder has rightly already raised some difficult questions and discussions for all police forces and the Home Office’s inquiry will continue to do so.

Sustained change is desperately needed and I firmly encourage Avon and Somerset Police to face these questions head-on, reflect and set actions to ensure officers and staff are upholding the highest standards of policing for our communities.

I understand that this is a complex, societal issue but this is not an excuse. We need to start somewhere and the police and criminal justice system need to be leading the way to deliver real change.