PROTECTING women from violence and harassment remains a top priority in Warwickshire.
That was the clear message from Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe as he reflected on the wider implications of the Sarah Everard murder case.
Wayne Couzens, a serving police officer with the Metropolitan Police, was sentenced to spend the remainder of his life in prison for the abduction, rape and murder of the young marketing executive in London earlier this year.
The horrific case sparked widespread public concern over violent crime against women and the police response to offences such as stalking and harassment.
Mr Seccombe promised more would be done in Warwickshire to protect women from abuse and bring about a change in attitudes to violent crime against them.
He confirmed ensuring these were a major focus for police and other partners in Warwickshire would be a central theme of the forthcoming Police and Crime Plan, as woud measures to ensure the public had confidence in policing as a whole.
Mr Seccombe said: “Like everyone who is involved with policing, I was absolutely horrified by the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard.
“Sadly, we know that this offence is not an isolated incident, with concerning numbers of women being subjected to abusive, violent or controlling behaviour each year. That’s why I believe we need to see changes, both in the manner in which the state deals with these types of crime, and the efforts we put in to prevent them happening.
“This case has understandably led to questions about policing in the UK and left many women feeling more vulnerable. The vast majority of police officers are committed to protecting people from harm but I know some people feel more apprehensive about their interactions with the police as a result of this case.
“Warwickshire Police and our partners will be working hard to restore public trust and confidence in police conduct and processes as a matter of critical importance.”
Mr Seccombe said his new soon to be published Police and Crime Plan for Warwickshire would aim to build on progress made in recent years in tackling violence against women and girls.
He added: “I want to ensure this work accelerates further and delivers better outcomes, with strong partnership working to help improve the response to these types of offences.
“To prevent re-victimisation I will put a greater focus on high-quality programmes that educate and divert perpetrators from violent and abusive behaviour. Alongside this I will continue to fund and co-commission high-quality support services for victims, with specialist support for victims of sexual offences, exploitation and domestic abuse.
“I also want to see overall improvements in the way police and other agencies interact with the public. In particular, I want to ensure that whenever and however people make contact with Warwickshire Police they are left with a good impression and have confidence in the service they receive.
“Key to this is implementing better overall communication with a strong victim focus, as well as a rigorous system that ensures that police officers are held to the highest standards of conduct, with proper accountability for serious wrong doing.”