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The British Home Secretary announced Wednesday her intention to create a new position for a senior police officer in the United Kingdom to investigate crimes of violence against women and girls in England and Wales.
The creation of this new position came after recommendations following the murder of the young woman, Sarah Everard, 33, last March.
Everard’s murder sparked widespread debate about the safety of women in the UK.
The new position is set to be part of a larger strategy to create “lasting change,” according to Home Secretary Priti Patel.
This comes amid concerns about a record drop in convictions for rape charges and the spread of a culture of harassment in schools.
Patel emphasized that the new position aims to “push in the direction of change” towards eliminating “abuse and abhorrent violence against women and girls.”
“Policing and judicial system procedures must adopt a rigorous approach to ending violence against women and girls,” she said.
She noted that the position, which will be created in the near future, “will enhance the amazing work of police officers across the country and help an appropriate response consistent with the current situation with the aim of eliminating these horrific crimes.”
But Jess Philip, the Labor Party’s shadow home secretary, said the government had “completely failed to keep women and girls safe and secure by following the strategies of previous governments”.
She added, “(The government) must move towards achieving its goals in this regard with more measures than using warm words.”
The British government is publishing its full plans to deal with violence against women and girls
These include a 24-hour rape and sexual assault hotline, £5 million in funding to combat violence in public at night, and online tools that women and girls can access if they are in areas where they do not feel safe.
The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners welcomed the “whole system approach to violence”, but noted that it can only be successfully implemented through “sustainable financing”.
The British Association said: “It is unfortunate that society did not move towards recognizing that violence against women and girls is spreading in the country like an epidemic until after the murder of Sarah Everard.”
She added: “We want victims to feel safe reporting what they have been exposed to, certain that the police will listen to them and confident that justice will be served.”
The killing of Sarah Everard sparked protests calling for more action to tackle violence against women.
The incident also prompted the government to activate a fact-finding campaign that it had started last December with the aim of collecting information useful in developing a strategy to confront the violence.
Sarah was kidnapped by police officer Wayne Cousins during his shift, while she was returning to her home after a friend’s increase on the third of last March. Cousins later confessed to killing her.
Robert Buckland, Britain’s justice minister, admitted in a BBC interview last month that budget spending cuts were one of the reasons for the record drop in rape convictions.
There were 58,856 rapes reported in England and Wales in 2020, according to police reports, and only 2,102 defendants were brought to justice. E.