Chief Constable's message following the sentencing of Wayne Couzens
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Following the tragic murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa the issue of violence against women and girls (VAWG) has resonated across the country.
The police service fully understands that the public is rightly shocked and angered by the murders of two women who had everything to live for.
The fact that a police officer, Wayne Couzens, was responsible for the murder of Sarah Everard and carried out his crimes by using his status, has rocked the police community, as it has the communities we serve.
Chief Constable Serena Kennedy has released a video statement on her Twitter account outlining our force’s commitment to work alongside many other agencies to protect women and girls from violence and create a safer, more respectful society.
She has pledged to continue taking a zero tolerance approach towards any member of Merseyside Police who seeks to abuse their position for sexual gain, and has issued advice to the general public about how to verify the identity of a police officer and the validity of any arrest or stop-check:
- Police officers will always carry identification and know that people are perfectly entitled to ask them to show it to them to verify who they are
- Plain clothes officers and detectives (who don’t wear a uniform) very rarely work alone but if they do, they will still carry identification
- All police officers are expected by their force to be really clear in telling any member of the public they are interacting with: who they are, what they are doing, and for what policing purpose
- People can legitimately ask for an officer’s collar number (the number unique to them and their force) and should be given it
- For further reassurance, people can ask to speak to the officer’s control room to verify them either over their radio or by calling 101 or 999
Chief Constable Kennedy, said: "As a society we all need to take the very strongest of stances against attacks on women and girls, who should be able to live their lives without fear of sexual objectification, harassment, or physical and mental abuse.
"The murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer has rocked policing nationally. I will not tolerate those officers and staff who abuse their position for sexual gain and I recognise the huge impact it has on the people we serve and on public trust and confidence.
"The despicable actions of Wayne Couzens have sickened and angered me as a police officer, as a woman and as a mum to two teenage daughters.
"For years, women have had to ‘put up’ with unwanted sexual touching, sexist comments and gestures, and this needs to stop. It is the responsibility of us all to challenge these behaviours wherever we see them.
"Having conversations about how we stop violence against women and girls is really important, but it is only the start.
"It is one of my key priorities as the Chief Constable. My force will continue to work with our communities and partners to eradicate abuse against women and girls, and bring the strongest possible action against the perpetrators of it.
"I want the streets where women walk, the homes where they live, the workplaces where they earn a living, and the places where they socialise to be safe, respectful and equal.
"We need a robust public health approach in relation to Violence and Intimidation Against Women and Girls and will be working closely with the five local authorities; the health service; Crown Prosecution Service; Probation; the courts and third sector organisations on a regional strategy that can help us to make our communities safer.
"My officers will continue to target perpetrators of these crimes and we will support and work with women and girls who are subjected to stalking or harassment, violence, domestic abuse, or any other crimes based on their gender, so we can identify offenders and put them before the courts.
"For people out there who have experienced violence or abuse, my message is clear: Tell someone you trust and please don’t suffer in silence.
"My commitment to you is that we will listen, we will care and we will take action."