Message from Chief Constable Lauren Poultney at the close of the 16 Days of Activism

Date published: 10 December 2021 15:14
Dated: 10 December 2021 15:13:38

Too many women and girls face harassment and violence on a daily basis, this has to stop.

Attitudes and stereotypes about men and women help maintain a narrative where women and girls are objectified. From a young age girls know how their bodies are seen and valued.  It is time for this to change.  What may be seen by some as a harmless comment on a woman’s appearance, can contribute to women feeling fearful and impact on the decisions they make, on their feelings about where they feel safe.

Women and girls should be able to feel safe and go about their daily lives in the same way men can.

Sadly too many women and girls are the victims of offences committed by men, each sexual assault, each domestic assault, each act of violence and each murder is one too many.  Offences occur in public, in private and online, for some women there are no safe spaces.  We all have to do better.

As Chief Constable I absolutely commit listen, to look and to take action.

As a force, we have been listening to the voices of women about where they don’t feel safe, and understanding where interventions need to take place. We have provided our officers and staff with additional training around Domestic Abuse and added further scrutiny to our investigations around rape and serious sexual offences.

We have welcomed our new strategic lead for violence against women and girls, ensuring we can continue to learn, improve and bring real change to our communities.

We are also focusing efforts within South Yorkshire Police. We are looking internally and analysing our own culture within the Force. Whilst we are assessed as being outstanding in ethical behaviour, we recognise there is always room for more work to be done- we will not be complacent.

We have recently undertaken a piece of work to understand the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace. It’s too easy to assume this is a thing of the past but we know women are subject to sexualised comments in public so it’s entirely possible, though not acceptable for this to happen at work.

We are also rigorous in our work to seek out any officer abusing his or her position for sexual purposes. Events this year, have shown that no organisation is exempt from such recruits but we will do all that we can to identify them and bring them to justice.

This is what we are doing as the police, as employers and as members of our own communities. We now ask you to support us in challenging those who normalise this behaviour. Much of this will not become a policing issue but we all have a responsibility to address it.

If you have experienced abuse or violence of any kind, or you know someone who has- please know we are here. We will listen. And we will support you.

Report it to us so we can help.

Thank you.

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