OPINION: Stopping male violence against women starts with the police

UEA students taking part in event to show solidarity for all women who have experienced violence.

UEA students taking part in event to show solidarity for all women who have experienced violence - Credit: Roo Pitt

Male violence against women and girls is at epidemic proportions.

It is everywhere. It’s so constant as to feel like an accepted part of life.

According to the Victim's Commissioner of England and Wales we are facing the "effective decriminalisation of rape." 

And as the revolting actions of Wayne Couzens, and the fellow serving police officers who it is said shared violent degrading material on WhatsApp  chats with him show, it’s even within the forces there to protect us. 

This must stop. I want our local force to join calls on the national stage for huge changes, and to act locally now. 


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As part of this, it is time to think about victim support and lack of confidence and trust in the criminal justice system.

Prosecution rates are low and vetting procedures not fit for purpose, and even within the law there is a culture of victim blaming where sexual violence is concerned.

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Women and girls of colour face an even harsher reality within this nightmare landscape.

Councillor Lucy Galvin

Councillor Lucy Galvin - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

The Home Office has announced that it is launching an inquiry into the systemic failures within policing across England and Wales in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard.

As Harriet Wistrich, director of the Centre for Women's Justice, has said: "Any inquiry must not be an opportunity to kick into the long grass or gloss over the clear and serious State failures around the policing of male violence against women. It is an insult to survivors, their supporters and assisting professionals to suggest that the problems have not been identified repeatedly over many years.

“If the government has been listening, then they already know what needs to be tackled and how. They must know that it is beyond time for systemic change.” 

I want to know what the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk is doing to improve public confidence in the criminal justice system.

While increased CCTV and educating young people will begin to help, how will this improve the appalling 20% reporting rate and 2% charging rate for rape in our county

Police forces have faced funding cuts over the past ten years, but they can still act both together both at a national level and locally.  

Nationally, they can join calls for rape and serious sexual offences to be included in the strategic policing requirement. They can advocate strongly for greater controls on tech companies to limit access to pornography and sharing of abusive material. 

At a local level they can shine a spotlight on themselves, and massively improve police vetting, disciplinary procedures and misconduct handling. They can develop programmes to prevent perpetrators reoffending.

And long term, and crucially, they can get this problem out in the open. We need proper accountability and transformative, collaborative, change in the criminal justice system. The police must work alongside education, health and social services to improve preventative work and change societal attitudes. 

The police can’t solve this alone.

We need boys and girls to be taught at school about respectful relationships and consent.

We need the county council to work more with vulnerable children most at risk of being a future offender or victim.

We need film, game makers and the media to stop glorifying violence against women.  

We need men to call each other out over unacceptable attitudes, remarks, and messages. We need better lighting in public places.

This is a societal problem and to solve it needs change from all angles.

The police can’t solve this alone but they are a good place to start.

That’s why I am requesting that the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk acts urgently and tells me what action he is taking as part of his work to hold the force accountable. 

Lucy Galvin is deputy leader of The Green Party at Norwich City Council 

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