Police Scotland reveal new strategy to tackle violence against women and girls after Sarah Everard death

Police Scotland is developing a new strategy to tackle violence against women and girls following tragic events such as the murder of Sarah Everard.

Thursday, 20th January 2022, 4:55 am

The strategy comes as new figures reveal the number of reported sexual crimes across Scotland increased by more than 13 per cent last year.

The rise in cases included an increase in online child abuse offences, rape and domestic abuse, and the emerging issue of spiking.

A report for the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) by Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham outlined a strategy to improve the police’s efforts to tackle violence against women and girls.

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Police Scotland is developing a new strategy to tackle violence against women and girls, following tragic events such as the murder of Sarah Everard (Photo:Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images).

The report, presented at an SPA meeting on Wednesday, states police are committed to building on public trust and confidence.

Deputy Chief Constable Graham said the strategy acknowledged more resources needed to be given to critical businesses such as Rape Crisis Scotland and a public protection development programme was being developed.

The report mentions the murder of Ms Everard and other high-profile events as incidents which demonstrate “the need to continually review and improve our approaches”.

The document states: "The strategy will recognise the impact of broader societal issues, the need for attitudinal and cultural change and seek to inspire and influence change through education, intervention, prevention and the robust pursuit of perpetrators."

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said the strategy covered a “massive journey” that policing in Scotland has been on for decades.

He said: “We are absolutely conscious of what our challenges are. We are looking them square in the eye and we are making tangible plans to make process.”

Positive feedback for the new officer verification process and the success of the That Guy campaign are highlighted in the report.

The verification process was launched in October last year to reassure the public after Ms Everard was abducted and killed by Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens.

Couzens, 48, used his warrant card to abduct Ms Everard before raping and murdering her.

The viral Police Scotland That Guy campaign included men describing intimidating and abusive behaviour passed off as insignificant.

Survivor feedback was read aloud by Detective Chief Inspector Laura McLuckie at the meeting to stress more work needs to be done.

One survivor said: “I feel I’ve been left in the dark without any rough ideas with regards to time-scales for next steps.

"I feel I’ve been left to piece together for myself what the process involves, which has been anxiety-inducing for me after making such a big decision to report.”

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A total of 7,519 sexual crimes were recorded in the first half of 2021/22, up 13.4 per cent. This compares to 6,629 in the same period of 2020/21.

Detections also increased by 6 per cent for the same period.

Police Scotland on average see 180 domestic abuse incidents reported per day.

Of the total number of sexual crimes, the number of reported rapes increased by 12 per cent (132 crimes).

Mr Livingstone said: “Our commitment and approach to tackling violence against women and girls doesn’t sit in isolation from everything else that we are doing as an organisation.

"We are utterly committed to this and we are going to drive progress in the months and years ahead."

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