Since that was such a mammoth and disheartening gender data gap of the week, I thought we’d move straight into the GFPs who are fixing it. Be warned, this contains details of sexual violence.
First up, the Centre for Women’s Justice
(CWJ) an incredible organisation that is doing several important things when it comes to addressing institutional misogyny in the police.
First of all, they have written to Priti Patel
asking her to expand the scope of the Wayne Couzens inquiry and make it statutory. All of us writing to our MPs and copying Priti Patel into our email will be supporting and adding our voices to their demands, so please do take a moment to do that ❤️
But just as institutional misogyny in the police is not a new problem, nor is this the first or only thing the CWJ has been doing. Last year they submitted a super-complaint
to The Police Inspectorate highlighting systemic failures women are experiencing when reporting domestic abuse perpetrated by police officers.
we are concerned about a “locker-room culture” that trivialises violence against women, where loyalty towards fellow officers and concern about impact on their careers may be getting in the way of justice for women who report abuse
And I spoke this week to Freya, one of the women involved in CWJ’s super-complaint.
Freya was pregnant when her police officer husband physically abused her for the first time. He pushed her out in front of a car. Years of physical, emotional and financial abuse were to follow
He had a knife one day and that’s the only time I called the police. I dialled 999. He was really angry and cut the call off and said I was going to wreck his job. But the police came and they just told him to go for a walk. And next time he lost his temper to count to ten. […] they didn’t even speak to me or the children, you know, you’re just really totally on your own.
Eventually, when Freya told her husband she was going to leave him, he raped her. Terrified that he would kill her, she sought help to leave, and reported the rape a few months later. That was in 1999. It is now 22 years later, and she has yet to receive justice.
What she has received is intimidation.
He strangled a man in the toilets just for talking to me. Men I dated afterwards were stopped repeatedly by other police officers for things like trying to get them for speeding or checking their tyres or absolutely anything, and neither of them had ever been stopped before.
Freya also told me that one officer had told her “we will protect him.” Another told her “we cannot have you bring force into disrepute.”
But despite what she has been through and continues to go through, Freya has not stopped fighting. She has set up Police Me Too
, a website where other women who have experienced violence at the hands of police officers can anonymously submit their experiences. She’s gathered 46 reports in just three weeks.
The earliest report I’ve had so far, I think it’s 1968. And the most recent is a police officer woman who’s currently being abused by a police officer. So it’s spanning over 50 years and 24 forces.