Last week, The Independent revealed another scandal around how police are failing women, this time uncovering how they are missing crucial opportunities that could protect hundreds of thousands of domestic abuse victims by failing to impose emergency restraining orders on their alleged attackers.
Just 1% of those who complained of abuse were given a domestic violence protection order (DVPO). DVPOs protect victims by ordering the alleged offender to leave the premises and not contact the victim.
As per government figures, only 10,489 DVPOs were applied for in the year ending March 2022, despite more than 1.7 million women experiencing domestic abuse and more than 800,000 police reports filed.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper spoke to the paper and set out her plans to crack down on police failures to keep women safe. Cooper said, “The police have tools to protect victims of [violence against women and girls] at the earliest opportunity; they simply must use them. Never again should we hear that the police could have done more. Missed opportunities cost lives, and too many have already been lost.”
Under Labour’s plans, laid out by Cooper, strict new 24-hour time limits would be brought in, during which officers must assess whether or not to issue a DVPO. Police forces would also have to submit regular figures to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Home Office to explain any failings.
Negligence of vulnerable women has been a systemic issue in the police, as has misogyny and violence against women. In the last year, scandal after scandal has been revealed – each leading to more distrust of the police. Police are failing women, and this should be treated as a matter of urgency.
The Liberal Democrats shared that – after a freedom of information request – of the 657 officers under investigation for sexual or domestic abuse, 129 are still carrying out their duties as normal, including 33 who have been accused of both domestic and sexual abuse. Overall, it means one in five Met officers facing these serious allegations have not had any restrictions placed on their duties.
A YouGov poll found that 47% of women and 40% of men had less trust in the police following the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens. The data also found that 76% of women and 71% of all adults polled think the culture of policing has to change in order to better respond to violence against women and girls. Why has it taken so long for the Government to address these failings? Cooper’s is a step in the right direction, but really this response should already be the bare minimum. And what about other politicians? What are the Conservatives, who have been in power for thirteen years, offering?
GLAMOUR reached out to members of different parties (including Labour, Conservatives, Greens and the Women’s Equality Party) to find out…
Leader of the Women’s Equality Party, Mandu Reid said:
“Every week we see more news stories about the devastating impact violence has on women’s lives, and about cases where police have failed to recognise, wilfully ignored, worsened, or even perpetrated that abuse. Our policing and justice systems simply do not work for women, and we are paying the price every day with our lives.
“While we welcome the Labour party’s commitment to expanding DVPOs, it will mean nothing if they do not acknowledge and address the deep roots of misogyny and racism that infect policing in the UK. The police will always fail women while they have licence from politicians to underplay or ignore the toxic and fatally dangerous culture within all policing institutions. We need our political leaders to be bold. Nothing short of a total overhaul of policing will achieve a society where all women and all marginalised people live freely and without fear.”