Welsh policing must prioritise women’s safety

Picture courtesy of Chris Sampson

As part of work to ensure that the letter and spirit of the Equality Act is observed by public bodies in Wales, and that they are adhering to the obligations of the Public Sector Equality Duty, we have written to each of the newly-appointed Police & Crime Commissioners: Jeff Cuthbert in Gwent, Andy Dunbobbin in North Wales, Alun Michael in South Wales, and Dafydd Llywelyn in Dyfed-Powys.

We have raised a number of key issues:

    1. The consequences of conflating sex and gender in relation to reporting, recording and tackling of crime.
    2. The need for a fresh approach to tackling violence against women and girls, including domestic violence.
    3. Our concerns, where relevant, about the police force’s relationship with Stonewall and the implications this has for their Public Sector Equality Duty and their reputation for objectivity and fairness in relation to all demographics.

We have asked for the following measures to be prioritized:

  • Crimes should be recorded noting the biological sex of the perpetrator. Gender must not be substituted for sex in crime statistics.
  • Victims of sexual assault must be able to request and receive an interviewer of the same sex, not gender.
  • Strip searches on female suspects must be carried out by officers of the same sex, in accordance with the Parliamentary Act of Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

We have also pointed out the need for effective action on violence against women and girls, that takes in to account the voices of victims. We have asked that a properly-funded Violence Against Women & Girls Gold Group – or equivalent – should be set up, and that local female-only specialist services for victims of male violence should be made available.

Where relevant we have advised all Welsh police forces to:

examine whether your membership of the Stonewall Diversity Champions programme is in the best interests of the people you serve, and to examine any policies in which Stonewall have had a hand, to rectify any misinterpretation of the EA 2010, or any bias in your force’s policies, procedures or actions towards one protected demographic at the expense of another.

We will let you know how they respond.

Regardless of the individual merits of the four PCCs, it is regrettable that they are not more representative of the population they serve. It makes the need to listen to the voices of victims and survivors even more acute.