Chief Constable Nick Adderley pledged to “root out any bad apples” at Northamptonshire Police after launching a new strategy to tackle violence against women and girls.
Mr Adderley says he wants to make the county a safer place but admits there is a need to rebuild public trust and confidence following the horrific rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer last year.
Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens told 33-year-old Everard that he was arresting her for having breached Covid-19 regulations but drove her to near Dover where he raped and strangled her, before burning her body and disposing of her remains in a nearby pond.
The case sparked outrage and protests from women launching a campaign to ‘reclaim the streets’ with some calling for the police to be abolished.
But Mr Adderley warned he will not tolerate predatory and misogynistic behaviour within the force while the working environment must be respectful and inclusive of all sexes.
Detective Chief Inspector Nickie Deeks, the force lead for tackling violence against women and girls, said: “The Chief Constable has very clear expectations of officers and staff and will not stand for unacceptable behaviour.
"We have robust measures in place to deal with poor professional standards.
“We want the public to feel reassured and have full confidence that we will do our very best for them.
"We want victims to feel supported at every step.”
The force now has specialist crisis advisors in its control room offering advice to officers during live domestic abuse incidents.
■ If you are a victim of domestic abuse or sexual assault, recent or non-recent, please call 101 or report via the Northamptonshire Police website. If you’re not yet ready to talk to the police, you can get free support and advice at Voice or by calling 0300 303 1965.
Additionally, the police uses the expertise of independent sexual violence advisors to support rape and serious sexual assault victims.
DCI Deeks added: “We have plans to increase our work with women’s groups to ensure we listen to the voices of women and girls, particularly victims from black and minoritised groups.
“We will continue to work closely with victim services including Voice for Victims and Witnesses, and with Rape Crisis, who both provide expert emotional support, help and practical advice to victims.
"We also work with a number of other specialist organisations and charities.”
Women and girls are disproportionately affected by violence and abuse, including rape and sexual offences, domestic abuse, honour-based abuse, stalking and harassment.
They are also more likely to be affected by cat-calling, explicit messaging, and unwanted touching which may often not meet criminal thresholds but could be precursors for further offending.
The issue is already a matter of priority for the force but the new strategy seeks to better protect and support domestic abuse victims and create safer environments in both private and public settings.
DCI Deeks added: “We know some women who are sexually assaulted don’t come forward and report because they fear they won’t be believed.
"This definitely isn’t the case, we are joint top out of 43 forces for accurately recording sexual crimes and we will do all we can to support victims.”