Performance Scrutiny Meeting focusing on Violence Against Women and Girls (3 November 2022)

One of my key roles as Police and Crime Commissioner is to hold the Chief Constable to account on behalf of the public, and make sure that Derbyshire Constabulary deliver on the key strategic priorities included in my Police and Crime Plan 2021/2025.

The Performance Scrutiny Meetings are just one of the ways that I hold the Chief Constable to account. It is an opportunity for the force to provide extensive evidence on their performance and plans for improvements where necessary on the key priorities. It is also an opportunity for the public to send in specific additional questions.

Violence Against Women and Girls is one of the key priorities in my Police and Crime Plan and I am committed to working with the Constabulary and other partners.

I would like to thank everyone who has taken he time to submit a question. My office received 21 questions in total, which were addressed during the meeting.

Below are the questions that were submitted to me, alongside the response to those questions from the Chief Constable. The Agenda and Papers  submitted at the meeting are available to view.

Please be advised that the next PSM meeting is on Wednesday 23 November and the topic is Strong Local Policing. The public questions have now closed for this PSM however, please see the website for more details on upcoming PSM’s for the rest of the year.

Thank you once again for taking the time to submit a question.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire
Angelique Foster

The Agenda and Papers and Presentation submitted at the meeting are available to view.

Public Questions raised at the meeting
Performance Scrutiny Meeting recording focusing on Violence Against Women and Girls.

Public Questions Submitted

Male victims

Q1) As more young men are killed/wounded each year than women – why only target on gender? Surely the policies need to deal with both genders. Start Q1 00:00:10

Constabulary response:

‘Violence against women and girls’ refers to acts of violence or abuse that we know disproportionately affect women and girls. Crimes and behaviour covered by this term include rape and other sexual offences, domestic abuse, stalking, ‘honour’-based abuse (including female genital mutilation forced marriage, and so call ‘honour’ killings), as well as many others. The violence against women and girls’ strategy does not seek to exclude male victims, who are of course affected by these crime types too. Policies in respect of these and all other crime types are not gender specific and are inclusive of all genders.

Q2) Why isn’t violence against males taken as seriously as violence against females & why are we described as witnesses instead of victims? Start Q2 00:01:20

Constabulary response:

Derbyshire Constabulary’s standards of investigation and force policies regarding serious violence and wider crime types are not gender specific. Reported crimes are taken seriously regardless of gender. ‘Violence against women and girls’ refers to acts of violence or abuse that we know disproportionately affect women and girls and does not seek to exclude male victims of crime.

Across the force victim and witness categorisation is applied consistently. Male victims of crime will be treated as victims and not witnesses, they will receive the same level of service from the police and victim support services.

Police Behaviour (internally)

Q3) Are males and females treated equally / the same?   I believe in equality. Start Q3 00:02:21

Constabulary response:

The force is committed to equality, inclusivity and treating people fairly. As an employer we invest in a dedicated equality, diversity, and inclusion unit, which supports our effort in harnessing a culture that ensures we can best meet the needs of individuals. As stated previously our investigative standards and force policies regarding all crime types are not gender specific. However, we recognise the importance in treating everyone as an individual and recognising their individual needs.

Q4) The Derbyshire Constabulary has an Independent Advisory Group but it is never invited to discuss such topics.  Its only role seems to be to tick a box that the force has one and to look at a few stop and search incidents (never a discussion about are they working etc) again ticking a box that eternal scrutiny is being applied however cursory. Why is the group not used in the way the IAG is meant to work addressing issues such as these? Start Q4 00:03:09

Constabulary response:

The terms of reference has been drawn up in respect of a Violence Against Women and Girls Independent Advisory Group (IAG). An IAG panel will be asked to review and reflect on cases across the full VAWG definition with an aim to scrutinise police policies and activity and provide feedback on what is going well and also where learning / improvements have been identified. These panels are not intended to be a tick box exercise. We see these independent panels adding real value to the service we provide the public and we will provide updates via our force website in relation to their progress and achievements. 

Police response to VAWG

Q5) Upon supplying a matter of concern about potential coercive controlling behaviour with the suspicion of physical abuse in a relationship the Police responded. Why was the response to send male Officers to the door of the house in their full size 10’s and expect to get a balanced and appropriate response? On which planet would the response be “yes Officer he is all of these things get me out of here”? When will process be amended to offer a “way out” and provide an opportunity to “break the cycle” and remove the risk? Start Q5 00:05:15

Constabulary response:

All police officers regardless of their gender receive the same level of training to respond to all crime types. Unless specifically requested by someone contacting the police, the first available resource will be dispatched to deal ensuring a timely response to all incidents. If a victim / witness specifically requests a male/female officer to attend their incident, we would do everything we could to accommodate that request. Police carry out risk assessments when taking calls for service to ensure the most appropriate and timely response to any incident. This will include conversations with the caller to ensure that police attendance will not put them at greater risk. Likewise, the call takers will ensure that the questions they ask will not place the caller in a vulnerable position. The force draws upon various options to help break the cycle of abuse, including where appropriate the use of prohibitive powers such as Domestic Violence Prevention Notices and Orders.      

Q6)  Will we see more of a police presence in our communities after school times and in the evenings? Start Q6 00:07:27

Constabulary response:

Our Safer Neighbourhood Teams provide visibility in our communities.  These consist of a mixture of police officers and police community support officers who work collaboratively with communities to support Derbyshire Constabulary’s response to violence against women and girls.

Safer Neighbourhood Teams work with the public and the community safety partnerships to set priorities for each local area every three months.  These are issues which are of concern to the community, with feedback on police action in relation to these matters provided to the public via social media, Derbyshire Alert, newsletters, and where appropriate via the local media. 

Officers use crime data and public reports to identify locations and individuals that are causing the most harm to their communities. Working with partners, officers use problem solving and other methods to help resolve and prevent these issues, including those relating to violence against women and girls.  Where any report is received then it is assessed and the appropriate response put in place, whether that be from a Safer Neighbourhood team or using other resources. This will of course include presence around schools or those evenings where a problem has been identified.

Where data shows crime hotspots, such as within the night-time economy, we seek to disrupt, and problem solve these through various operations. These operations often involve police patrols working alongside partners such as street pastors and taxi marshals.

Q7) How easy is it to talk to someone possibly a woman officer who has the right expertise to support women who will be fearful of reporting someone who they often are living with or in a relationship with? How do you make these women feel safe and supported? Do you have a special unit to deal with such issues? Start Q7 00:10:20

Constabulary response:

Being accessible in such circumstances is important to us as a service. Anyone contacting us can request that they speak to a male / female officer, and we will accommodate these requests wherever possible. Depending on the nature of the report and information received, we have specialist officers within our forces Public Protection Unit that respond to certain circumstances.

Within The Public Protection Unit, we have dedicated specialist resources who deal with high-risk domestic abuse, child abuse, rape and serious sexual offences and both adult and child exploitation.

All of our officers receive training in relation to the initial response and are therefore able to support, guide and safeguard women in these circumstances.

The force in line with the Commissioner’s priorities is dedicated to making the reporting of domestic abuse easier. There are many ways in which to report a crime to Derbyshire, including in person at a police station, 999, 101, online via the force’s website, social media and Crimestoppers. There is also a dedicated website ‘CORE Derbyshire’ funded by the Commissioner which provides a single source of information about support for victims of crime and domestic abuse.  

Minority Groups

Q8) What is Derbyshire doing about hate crime against young black females. Start Q8 00:13:13

Constabulary response:

Derbyshire Constabulary aspires to provide every member of the community with the highest possible standard of service irrespective of age, disability, gender reassignment, race or ethnic origin, religion or belief, sex (gender), sexual orientation, any other characteristic protected by equality legislation or lifestyle choice. All officers and staff are trained to deal with hate crime. We also have hate crime co-ordinators who help to ensure a consistent response from the force and improve services.

We are committed to understanding the issues affecting all communities, this includes young black females. Together with the Commissioner a Youth Commission has been set up as a one-year project that allows young people to support, challenge and inform the work of our police. We also hold scrutiny panels to review our response to Hate Crime and Incidents.

We work with third party reporting centres and victims services such as “Tell Mama” (Measuring Anti Muslim Attacks”). Tell MAMA is a national project which records and measures anti-Muslim incidents in the United Kingdom. It is modelled on the Jewish Community Security Trust (JCST) to  provide support for victims, working closely with organisations such as Victim Support. This support is available to all ages and all religions. We also work with “Got your back (GYB)” which is an independent support service in Derbyshire for victims of crime that are U18 , which includes hate crimes. These services are commissioned by the PCC.

In addition, we attend school assemblies and classroom sessions to deliver hate crime workshops which includes a presentation and Q&A on hate crime. This is delivered by our hate crime team or out SNT teams across the county. We do this to raise awareness and encourage reporting.

Q9) How do you ensure that women with Special Educational Needs are treated fairly, and their disabilities are taken into account when considering whether a case warrants prosecution? These women are particularly vulnerable and often their circumstances are ignored. Start Q9 00:16:51

Constabulary response:

Within any investigation where vulnerability is identified, a range of special measures are considered to support any victim or witness to take part in an investigation and to improve the quality of their evidence by helping them give their best evidence. Examples of special measures include the use of specialist intermediaries to assist with communication, visually recorded interview that can be produced to a court as evidence, and the removal of gowns and wigs at court. An application can be made for the use of multiple measures depending on individual circumstances.

In addition, the Police and Crime Commissioner commissions victim services across Derbyshire, who provide a high level of support to victims at all stages of their case, regardless of if they choose to report, where consideration as to individual needs will be taken into account.

Teaching and Advice

Q10) Does the constabulary visit schools etc to get the message across that respect and understanding for women needs to be practiced and that the differences in female needs and aspirations is different to the male. Complexity male v female hormones and paint brushing of female’s as the weaker sex does not help… Wish you luck. Start Q10 00:20:05

Constabulary response:

Derbyshire police have a youth engagement officer who provides numerous resources and inputs across schools in Derbyshire. The engagement officer has developed training packages suitable for all age groups across primary, secondary and further education to raise awareness on issues such as, stalking and harassment, domestic violence, controlling and coercive behaviour and healthy relationships.

Following an event arranged by the Police and Crime Commissioner this year, the police presented to all head teachers and safeguarding leads in Derbyshire on issues in relation to child exploitation, county lines, VAWG, knife crime and drugs. It was very clear from that event that the education sector is aware of their responsibilities across this agenda, and it is fully factored into the national curriculum.

Q11) How can we encourage teenage girls to have respect for each other? Women on women violence often starts as bitchiness at school. Start Q11 00:23:36

Constabulary response:

This requires a partnership response and cannot be solved by police alone. As mentioned previously this is a wider societal issue and one where we work with other partners and agencies. Following an event arranged by the Commissioner this year, the police presented to all head teachers and safeguarding leads in Derbyshire on issues in relation to child exploitation, county lines, VAWG, knife crime and drugs. It was very clear from that event that the education sector is aware of their responsibilities across this agenda, and it is fully factored into the national curriculum.

Again as previously stated we have a youth engagement officer who provides various updates and inputs across Derbyshire Schools promoting healthy behaviours and relationships.

Q12)  A recent survey within the force specifically avoided asking if female police officers and civilian staff had been subject to inappropriate behaviour/abuse and limited the question to discrimination. If the force does not want to find out the magnitude of the problem in its own ranks and deal with it how will it legitimately and effectively deal with the same issues in the community? Start Q12 00:24:45

Constabulary response:

The force is proactive in asking its workforce about this behaviour in the workplace. A recent internal staff survey focussed on sexual harassment within the workplace. Both officers and police staff were invited to complete the survey with regards to their experience of sexual harassment within the workplace. The survey was completely anonymous and explained the definition of sexual harassment behaviours. Within the survey was information regarding reporting any concerning behaviour or sexual harassment and the ways to do this, whether Bad Apple (the forces anonymous reporting tool), support networks, Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

The survey covered behaviour between colleagues with questions such as the following:  have you experienced sexual harassment at work during your time as a Derbyshire employee? If you have suffered from sexual harassment in the workplace during your time as a Derbyshire employee, what type of behaviour did you experience?

The force had 700 responses, in which we have taken feedback and made improvements such as the introduction of an anonymous Force Integrity line.

The force is absolutely committed to robustly dealing with any staff member who falls below the standards that are expected of them. We have a professional standards and a counter corruption department, whose responsibilities include, holding officers and staff to account for their behaviour and being proactive to seek out those who have no place in policing. 

Q13)   As a female yourself, what can you do to protect women and girls from any type of violence? Whether it be domestic, street or any other type of violence. Start Q13 00:27:25

Constabulary response:

As Chief Constable, working with the Commissioner and other agencies I am committed to protecting women and girls from all forms of violence. But, we all have a part to play and as individuals, this begins by creating a ‘call it out’ culture that does not allow matters to go unaddressed or challenged. This is something I speak about at every opportunity.    

The force has taken a number of actions to help tackle violence against women and girls.  In May 2022 the force appointed a stalking coordinator, to ensure a coordinated and consistent approach to stalking cases. All stalking cases are now risk assessed and allocated to the most appropriate department to deal. Since the implementation of the stalking coordinator in May we have seen a rise in applications for stalking protection orders. These orders offer protection to stalking victims by adding strict conditions to the perpetrators and making a breach of the order a criminal offence in its own right.

Gracie Spinks

Q14) After the senseless murder of Gracie Spinks in June 2021 by her stalker. What will the police do differently in the future? What commitment can be made as reassurance that complaints of harassment/stalking will be taken more seriously. Start Q14 00:28:50

Constabulary response:

As a force we have focused on improving our response to stalking. Over the past 12-18 months, the force has seen enhanced training across the force to effectively recognise and deal with stalking offices. In addition, there has been investment in a new stalking coordinator. The coordinator reviews all stalking, and harassment cases, applies a risk assessment and assigns the investigation to the most appropriate resource. The coordinator also provides investigation advice and assists with applications for Stalking Prevention Orders. The coordinator has received enhanced training in relation to stalking ensuring that we now apply a consistent risk assessment across all stalking cases.

Q15) I am concerned that girls and women living and working in rural areas, in the outdoors on a regular basis, are not given advice to help them. Mindful of the terrible events surrounding the recent murder of the horse rider by a male fixated with her, I am concerned that young girls out riding or walking dogs may now think that if they feel uncomfortable around a male there is little point reporting it. Perhaps there needs to be more work on prevention by targeting the farming community/horse riders/outdoor rural workers? Start Q15 00:31:40

Constabulary response:

The force is committed to dealing effectively with harassment and stalking and we encourage reporting form all communities. Recognising the increased concerns, the Safer Neighbourhood Teams and Rural Crime Team regularly meet those who live, work and recreate in the rural communities through local surgeries, drops ins and other meetings. We have also previously done specific events for the horse riding community. We encourage people to report concerns and there are so many ways to do this. There is a reporting mechanism Steet Safe accessed through our website where people can report specific concerns within communities, as well as Derbyshire Tasking, a web portal where residents can tell us what matters most to them so that we can shape our neighbourhood priorities and activities. Feedback so far has helped to inform improvements to CCTV and street lighting, as just some examples. I have passed your concern to the Rural Crime Team to ensure it is addressed in their ongoing work.  

Miscellaneous

Q16) For young girls in the workplace, specifically at Derbyshire Constabulary, what is in place to check that they are ok and that they feel looked after by their employer? How are they welcomed and made to feel part of the organization? What is in place to ensure that they are happy in their work and that they are being looked after and not the opposite? Start Q16 00:35:15

Constabulary response:

As a force we are committed to creating a working environment that enables all to flourish. The Chief Constable demonstrates this commitment, through chairing the forces ‘Our People’ governance board – one of the aims of which is to provide a safe and inclusive workplace. The force has a wide range of activities and mechanisms in place to ensure its workforce is looked after. This ranges from regular ‘check ins’ with supervisors, through to staff networks who support colleagues, and also staff surveys to find out how the workforce feels and take action accordingly.

Q17) Why do some video games encourage violence, and should those games be banned as they create a simulation of violence against girls and women. Also why are there online sites promoting violence against women. We need a zero tolerance to get the message across and the full weight of the law endorsed against crime of such a horrid nature. Start Q17 00:37:01

Constabulary response:

It is clear that society today is heavily influenced by a range of online material. Opportunities to strengthen the prevention of such behaviour is key, and a range of partners and indeed broader society all have a role to play. In relation to online crime, the force recognises this area of policing and has committed resources accordingly, through dedicated units to Protecting Children Online as well as Cyber Crime. In addition, we work with the education sector to provide awareness training on a number of issues as outlined earlier.

Q18) A convicted person should be given prostate cancer treatment which kills the Libido and prevent him committing sexual crimes against females.

Constabulary response:

It is not the role of any Police Force to impose sentencing or other punishments upon conviction therefore, Derbyshire Constabulary cannot comment further on the question raised above.

Q19) Could we see the results/report from your survey?

It is not the role of any Police Force to impose sentencing or other punishments upon conviction therefore, Derbyshire Constabulary cannot comment further on the question raised above. Start Q19 00:38:50

Constabulary response:

A number of surveys have been undertaken by the force. Much of the information received from those surveys is being assessed and actions plans put into place to address issues raised within them. The results of the activities undertaken will be shared as the force is committed to highlighting and addressing issues affecting people both internally and externally. Work is ongoing to address issues raised, with the results of the Commissioners “Listening to You” 2021-22 survey having already been published. The Commissioner’s ‘Listening to You’ survey for 2022-2023 is ongoing.

Q20) Over recent years the council has replaced the bulbs within street lighting around Glossop, where once the streets were well lit, they are consequently now poorly lit in many areas making walking at night less safe for all, especially children and women. Could you work with the council and address this issue and once again enable safety and freedom at night? Start Q20 00:40:37

Constabulary response:

The ‘Street Safe’ portal on our website is an online and anonymous reporting mechanism for use by members of the public to report any concerns they have in their local area that make them feel unsafe, whether this is due to poorly lit areas, lack of CCTV, overgrown hedges, road safety etc. This data is shared monthly with local councils and other relevant agencies to work together to make the streets of Derbyshire safer. The national initiative of StreetSafe was launched in September 2019. To date the force has received 219 referrals, predominantly in respect of poor street lighting. These have all been referred to the local councils with who we continue to work to improve safety.

Q21) A major factor affecting the safety and usability of our streets is how safe people feel from vehicles. We know that measures to improve walkability, including wide-area 20mph speed limits, increase the numbers of people walking, wheeling, cycling and socialising on our streets. The passive or natural surveillance that these street users provide is a critical part of making our society safer for women and girls. Women and girls are less likely than men to have access to vehicles. They are more likely to walk and use public transport. Women and girls are more likely to need to walk on less busy routes, since they carry out more chained journeys- that is, trips to multiple destinations rather than simple home-work-home or home-school-home commute patterns. At the same time, women and girls are disproportionately likely to feel unsafe on streets and are disproportionately more likely to experience harassment, particularly in less busy locations. 20mph limits will improve how safe women and girls feel walking, wheeling and cycling in their communities. 20mph limits will improve independent mobility for women and girls, increasing their freedom and their ability to develop strong and supportive social networks. Independent mobility, safer neighbourhoods and strong support networks all help protect women and girls from violent crime including domestic violence: Women and girls are more likely to be harmed by an intimate partner than by any other person. Will Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner and Derbyshire Constabulary support wide-area 20mph limits on streets were women and girls live, work, play and learn as part of their measures to reduce violence against women and girls? Start Q21 00:43:14

Constabulary response:

The national ‘StreetSafe’ initiative was launched in 2019, the StreetSafe portal can be accessed via our website. This can be used to report any areas you feel are unsafe, whether this is due to poorly lit areas, lack of CCTV, overgrown hedges or road safety etc. This data is shared monthly with local councils and other relevant agencies to work together to make the streets of Derbyshire safer.

Once your concern is raised about a particular area we can take this forward to the local council and discuss the most appropriate way in which to deal. Issues such as the one you raised in this question can then be put to the local councils for wider consideration and consultation.

We want all females in Derbyshire to feel safe when going about their everyday lives and if there are areas where they do not feel safe, this is a really good mechanism in which to raise those concerns so we can work with all relevant partners to address individual situations.

PLEASE NOTE: With the exception of legally required data and historic financial records, the majority of the information on the Derbyshire OPCC website covers information, news and events for the current Commissioner only. For access to news articles and information covering the previous Commissioners please contact the OPCC team.
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