We need to keep the conversation going about violence and intimidation against women and girls and I want to hear from you. On Thursday 21 October at 7pm, I will be taking part in a Twitter Q&A, alongside partners and we want to hear your questions, thoughts and ideas, so we can tackle and prevent it together.
Violence and intimidation against women and girls is a deeply ingrained societal issue and we will continue to work together, with our partners, to make sure we address it and that prevention is at the core of everything we do. Stopping violence and abuse against women and girls and the lifelong harm it causes is the responsibility of us all, and policing has a huge role to play.
As a force we need to make sure we continually review and build on the work we do to ensure we take the strongest possible action against the perpetrators of violence and intimidation against women and girls, whilst supporting survivors throughout the process alongside, our partner agencies.
There is lots of work that Merseyside Police is developing with partners, including local authorities, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Police and Crime Commissioner, our universities and the wonderfully committed charities and third sector we have in our region in order to keep women and girls safe in their homes, streets, places of education and workplaces across Merseyside.
Examples of the work we have ongoing include:
Officers in Liverpool city centre and town centres involved in ‘Operation Empower’, which is designed to prevent sexual violence within the city centre and town centres in the nighttime economy. Officers work to identify potential perpetrators who are displaying signs of predatory behaviour and to disrupt those who present a potential risk.
A joint campaign with partners across the bars and clubs in Liverpool city centre to highlight the rights of women who should not be forced or coerced into sexual activity and that no person has the right to do this to them.
As Chief Constable I have also:
Increased the number of officers in our specialist domestic abuse teams to ensure we have the capacity to provide an effective service both in terms of investigating crimes and supporting survivors.
Ensured the use of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS), also known as Clare’s Law, which gives someone in a relationship 'the right to ask' for information from various agencies about a partner's previous convictions, cautions, reprimands or final warnings for any offence of violence. It also gives agencies that have responsibility for safeguarding the public the power to disclose information to someone about their partner's violent background under 'the right to know' element of the scheme if the information is pertinent to their safety.
Introduced further enhanced training for all staff to ensure that they are able to deal with all eventualities relating to domestic abuse, rape and other crimes against women and girls. We also hold regular intensification periods, which allows officers to focus on best practice in order to improve all aspects of a survivor’s journey from first call through to prosecution.
Commissioned a review of how we look after victims of rape and investigate the crimes against them, from the moment they all us, so that our call handlers, first response, Unity team investigators and every single person involved in supporting victims and bringing offenders to justice has the skills and approach that the public expect from us.
We are committed to working together with partners, to listening to you and listening to each other and the different ideas and experiences we all have. We cannot do this in isolation and partnership and community engagement work is vital.
The Police and Crime Commissioner has secured additional funding to tackle violence and intimidation against women and girls. This funding will be used to launch a text message service, specifically requested by young people, which can be used to report concerns and to help identify offenders. It will fund a new educational resource for up to 70 schools across Liverpool, raising awareness of sexual harassment and misogyny. The funding will also be used to provide an increased police and uniformed presence on the transport network, with enhanced CCTV and through monthly awareness days at transport hubs, partnership days and use of a mobile police unit in hotspot areas and at times when women feel most unsafe.
My officers and staff work tirelessly every day to ensure that Merseyside is a safe place to live, work and socialise. I am proud of the work that my colleagues do to help and protect women and girls and bring offenders to justice. However, I also understand that you may have concerns about how we deal with officers and staff who may abuse their positions. Internally we have a reporting mechanism, available to everyone, which allows officers and staff to speak out anonymously and with confidence to report any concerns of wrongdoing, unethical behaviour or inappropriate activity by anyone working for Merseyside Police who abuses this trust.
Please join me on Twitter on Thursday evening. I’m looking forward to this opportunity to answer your questions, hear your thoughts and share more about our work across Merseyside.