Bedfordshire’s newly elected policing chief is planning to put the spotlight on violence against women and girls.
Police and crime commissioner (PCC) Festus Akinbusoye’s policing plan is going through the final stages of ‘dotting i’s and crossing t’s’ before it is published in the middle of August.
One of its items is proposing to change the way the police talk about violence against women and girls. He wants to change from offering advice to girls and women to targeting the perpetrators.
“We will use our platform to focus our messaging to the perpetrators of these crimes and not move into a victim-blaming space of purely offering preventative advice to girls and women,” says the plan.
It adds: “We know these are difficult and distressing times for the survivors of male violence. We understand this has gone on for too long.
“We will look hard internally at culture, systems and processes that may have made your journey as someone impacted by this crime difficult or more painful than it needed to be.”
The plan was discussed at a meeting on Wednesday (August 4) where the PCC’s chief executive responded to criticism from some members of the public. It had been criticised as “woke” and “politically correct” during a consultation exercise.
The plan is set to be formally launched later this month, but before then it is going through examination by a watchdog committee called Bedfordshire police and crime panel.
“We’re not going to change the language around not blaming children when they are in a cycle of criminality,” said Clare Kelly, the chief executive of the commissioner’s office.
“It goes against what we are ultimately trying to do.”
She told the informal meeting of the Bedfordshire police and crime panel that “they are still at that bit in their lives where we want them to have a very good life and healthy choices and if you start putting labels on, labels stick, and that’s what we don’t want.”
She told the informal meeting hosted by Bedford Borough Council that the hard-line approach was coming out “a lot” from the 400 or so people who took the time to add their comments to responses to a questionnaire.
The plan is set to be discussed at a meeting in public of the police and crime panel at Borough Hall in Bedford on Tuesday 10 August.
It is then set to be formally launched on 18 August and will set the PCC’s priorities until his term of office ends in 2024.
by David Tooley
Local Democracy Reporter