It is two years since the senseless murder of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman. Together with many others we are thinking of them, their family and friends and all families affected by male violence against women and girls (MVAWG).
MVAWG is an epidemic in the UK, 1 in 3 women experience abuse in their lifetime and a woman is killed every three days as a result of male violence and a further four women take their own life as a result of the trauma of their abuse. More than 1 in 20 women have experienced rape (including attempts) since the age of 16. The impact of abuse and violence on our society cannot be underestimated. It is heart-breaking and shocking that we continue to live with this and that in some areas, such as prosecutions for rape we are moving backwards.
Solace have been actively campaigning for the Government and the Metropolitan Police to have a thorough review of their approach to MVAWG, as well as investigating and improving their own internal culture. In the case of Bibaa and Nicole the grief of the murders was further exacerbated by the callous and unprofessional actions of a number of officers, who showed a shocking lack of empathy and revealed a nasty racist sub-culture that has significantly damaged public trust in the Police.
We welcome the appointment of a new commissioner, and suggest that once appointed the Commissioner should launch an inquiry into institutionalised misogyny and racism within the Metropolitan Police and review whether police officers are sufficiently trained to sensitively support domestic abuse victims and improve and implement their safeguarding procedures around girls, ensuring they are trauma informed and appropriate. The new commissioner should also ensure that efforts go into effectively implementing protective measures for victims, and breaches of these are being investigated, to ensure their safety once they have reported abuse.
Positively we have seen the Metropolitan Police move away from simply stating there are a few bad apples within the force, but this needs to followed up by an urgent review of all current investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct and domestic abuse against officers and staff, including those no longer serving.
We urgently need to work together to end MVAWG and create a safer society for all.