Wales’ PCC’s could learn from Lisa Townsend

One of our members sent this letter to Surrey PCC Lisa Townsend:

I am just writing to thank you for your bravery and integrity in speaking out about the current threat to women’s rights and Stonewall’s part in that.
I live in Wales. None of our four PCCs are willing to speak up for women, or to acknowledge the extent to which women and girls are being let down by police forces all over the country. There is no clear action plan to deal with violence against women and girls; hate crime ignores misogyny; our schools are places where sexual harassment and abuse go unpunished; rainbow lanyards and endless Pride events reveal police priorities very clearly; criminals are able to have crimes recorded by the gender they choose, thus making the data entirely meaningless and, equally worryingly, moving one step closer to female officers being required to search intact males, and for those males to be placed in women’s prisons.

Stonewall has completely captured our Government and our public services. I have always voted Labour but can do so no longer. We desperately need someone of your courage here in Wales.

Here’s Lisa’s reply:

As someone elected to represent the public, it is really important to me to reflect the concerns of all Surrey residents, and women more widely. I am extremely grateful for the many messages of thanks and encouragement that I have received for speaking out on this issue of women’s safety and right to single-sex spaces.

I am very conscious of the many women who do not feel able to speak up for fear of losing their jobs, or being excluded from other areas of life, so as the Police and Crime Commissioner, I felt a need to make our concerns public in recognition of the many individuals who have spoken to me.
I’m passionate about protecting women and girls from violence and will continue to drive this area forward throughout my term.

Hers is a rare voice. And we do desperately need someone of her courage here in Wales.

When we wrote of the four Welsh PCCs, we pointed out that the recent ‘Report on NHS and Police Accommodation for the Provision of Female-Only Services’ (Standing for Women) revealed ‘a clear failure by our Police Forces to observe protected characteristics as detailed in the Equality Act 2010’.

Related FoIs also revealed persistent misunderstanding of related legislation, misunderstandings that were directly linked to guidance and advice provided by Stonewall. This guidance ‘has had a hand in misleading various police forces on the finer tunes of the law regarding “gender identity” which has led so many to prioritise sex (and in superseding the sex-based rights of women).’

Our PCCs single collective reply did not address this key issue. Our letter focused on women and girls; we had not asked about other protected characteristics.

And yet, this was the first paragraph of the response:

At the outset, we would like to state that violence against women and girls is an issue of the highest importance for all four Police and Crime Commissioners in Wales. We would also like to affirm our unequivocal commitment to equality and inclusion across all communities in Wales, including the transgender community.

And, in response to the concerns we raised about Stonewall and the illegality of their guidance, they wrote:

Concerning Stonewall, the decision to sign up to the Diversity Champion Scheme sits independently with each of our respective forces. We are reassured that forces in Wales that are currently signed up to the scheme will have determined that the service provided by Stonewall is valuable in helping them to meet their responsibilities to equality and diversity.

Merched Cymru do not share their conviction. It is worrying that we do not have a single PCC in Wales who is willing to follow Lisa Townsend’s lead and speak up for women.