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Derbyshire Police chief: 'We're committed to the safety of women and girls'

Sarah Everard.

Derbyshire's police chief insists her force will be "doing all we can to gain the confidence of the public" and is "committed to the safety of women and girls". 

Chief Constable Rachel Swann's comments come in response to the sentencing of Wayne Couzens, who has been given a whole-life prison term for the rape, kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard. 

Couzens, a serving Metropolitan Police officer at the time, kidnapped the 33-year-old marketing executive under the guise of an arrest as she walked home from a friend's house in south London on 3 March. 

In a lengthy statement, Chief Constable Swann also said Derbyshire Constabulary will be "reviewing our policies" regarding plain-clothes officers in unmarked cars and the force has had "a small number of investigations" into "inappropriate behaviour" of officers or staff. 

"The details that have emerged of the circumstances surrounding the rape, kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard in London has shocked us all," Ms Swann said. "Our thoughts are with Sarah’s family and friends at this very difficult time.

“Policing has been rocked by what Wayne Couzens did, knowing that a police officer could commit such evil and atrocious actions. This goes against everything that we stand for.

"I understand that his actions have undermined trust in policing, but I want to reassure our communities that we will be doing all we can to gain the confidence of the public.

“We are stringent with our vetting checks, and these are carried out throughout people’s policing careers. We have had a small number of investigations into the inappropriate behaviour of officers or staff, and where proven, people have been dismissed. There is no place for that in policing." 


Chief Constable Rachel Swann. Image: Derbyshire Police. 

She went on: “We have a dedicated and committed workforce and have seen an increasing number of female officers wanting to make a difference to keeping people safe, with women accounting for around 40 per cent of our officers.

“There are very few incidents where a lone officer in plain-clothes would be stopping another vehicle without other resources being involved. However, because of this case, we will be reviewing our policies regarding plain-clothes officers in unmarked cars, and we want to try to make sure people do not feel isolated or unsafe while engaging with them. The onus is on us to do that, to create a safe environment, not on those women and girls we are engaging with.

“As a police service, Derbyshire Constabulary is committed to the safety of women and girls, and we are fully committed to delivering the new National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) strategy for Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), which will prioritise action against sexual and predatory offenders.

"We are developing a Derbyshire-wide VAWG strategy and plan to deliver that. But as a society we need the narrative to change, we need to stop asking women to change what they do in order to try to keep themselves safe; instead challenging as a community the behaviour of those who make women feel unsafe or where ‘banter’ hides sexism, or harassment is portrayed as a compliment.”

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