Up to 94% of girls and women between 16 and 24 have experienced sexual harassment and many women of all ages report all type of violence, harassment and assaults against them that happen solely on the basis of their sex. The amount paid to support Sussex police has risen by very high rates in the last two years, 7.5% this year following a 20% rise last year.
Forces often fully engage only after an assault or murder has occurred. In too many cases women have reported violent, threatening and stalking behaviour to the police for it not to be acted on sufficiently seriously. In some terrible cases, inaction by the police has resulted in serious assault and at worst, murder.
Following the murder of Sarah Everard and the heavy handed policing of the peaceful Brighton vigil to remember her, we, the undersigned, ask the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable of Sussex Police:
- to explain the policing at the Brighton vigil and why it was necessary for it to be so heavy handed.
- to give assurances that any future protests by women and girls highlighting issues around female safety should be policed in a collaborative way with an organised and community focused approach. We would not expect to see any arrests or cautions at such peaceful protests and vigils.
- to direct part of the increase in police funding, paid for by all residents of our county, towards improving responses and actions on violence towards women and girls and this should encompass all aspects from assault by strangers to domestic violence, danger from partners and stalking.
- to work to prevent the police from further entrenching ideas that victims bring this on themselves by ‘being in the wrong place’, ‘going out at night by themselves’ or ‘wearing the wrong clothes’, but ensure that the blame lies where it belongs, with the aggressor.
- to set a standard that tackles any institutional sexism or misogynist attitudes within the force.