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Statement from Head of Law Enforcement following verdict in Sarah Everard murder case

Statement from Ruari Hardy, Head of Law Enforcement:

"The murder of Sarah Everard was abhorrent. The fact it was committed by a serving police officer has led many people to understandably, and rightly, question police services on behaviours and attitudes towards women and girls. While the repugnant actions of individual officers should not tarnish the many thousands of officers who support their communities every day, it is absolutely right that all police services, including us in Guernsey, are challenged on the issue of violence and intimidation against women and girls.

Guernsey Police agrees that more needs to be done, within our society as a whole, to ensure the safety and respect of women and girls. We have been and continue to engage with key stakeholders both within government and outside with third sector organisations to discuss how this can be achieved. We recently organised a Community Advisory Group (CAG) meeting where the issue was widely debated by a cross section of our community. We are supporting a number of locally-driven projects at the moment that are seeking to raise awareness of this important issue to challenge and change behaviours, putting additional educational awareness campaigns and safeguards in place. We are also internally reviewing procedures, recruitment practices and ongoing training to ensure we are meeting the required standards.

It has been widely reported that since Sarah Everard's death, 79 women and girls have lost their lives to violence across the UK. Many more have been victims of physical and sexual assault. Guernsey Police will continue to work with our partner agencies to ensure services are in place to keep our island communities safe. The organisation will help support the implementation of the Sexual Assault Referral Centre which has been highlighted as part of the Government Work Plan. Following our inspection in 2018-2019 by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services, significant changes were made to the local vetting process for law enforcement staff to achieve more robust standards. These standards have been maintained and are in place today.

Police officers deal with vulnerable people and victims on a daily basis and are trained, supported and equipped to do this. The standards of professional behaviour and conduct are made clear to all staff and should any information or evidence come to light that these very high standards are not being met, we will take all necessary steps to address it. This would include criminal investigations if warranted or disciplinary action - and it should be noted that officers have been dismissed in recent years for failing to meet expected standards of behaviour.

A number of UK Forces are working to record gender-based crimes including misogyny as hate crimes and the UK Home Office is seeking to ensure that all UK Forces will be able to do this by the end of 2021. In line with National Crime Recording Standards, Guernsey Police is currently engaging with UK forces and key partners to see how quickly this element can be added to our current crime recording systems which are IT based. This is work in progress and is being treated as a priority.

Guernsey Police and the wider law enforcement body will be engaging and working in partnership with some key stakeholders over the coming weeks and months to demonstrate our commitment to these issues and the importance of tackling violence and intimidation against women and girls. While Guernsey thankfully remains a safe place in which to live and work, we are not immune to serious crime. We are also not immune to women and girls experiencing inappropriate behaviour, whether it be while on a night out, walking home after dark or in any other circumstance. As a service we will always encourage women and girls who come forward to seek our help and support. 

We acknowledge the high public expectations for Law Enforcement and are committed to respond appropriately and maintain the high standards of behaviour that our community quite rightly expects."

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