Silhouettes representing 16 women who have been killed by serving or former police officers since 2009 have been placed outside the Metropolitan Police headquarters in London to call on the Government to put an end to violence against women.
The black figures, bearing the pink slogan #EnoughIsEnough, are being displayed outside Scotland Yard by the charity Refuge to launch its campaign of the same name.
It comes in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard by serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, which has put issues around women’s safety in the spotlight.
“Enough is enough – our own Home Secretary Priti Patel said this and she said she’d use everything in her power to stop this epidemic of violence against women and girls,” said Ruth Davison, chief executive of Refuge, which provides specialist services to survivors of domestic abuse.
“We need more than just words, we need actual action, action that will make a difference and save women’s lives, keep women safer day to day.”
Ms Davison told the PA news agency that the Home Secretary has “a real opportunity to do this” in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which returns to the House of Lords on October 20.
The Bill contains a proposed new serious violence prevention duty, which requires police and other public bodies to work together to prevent and tackle serious violence.
But as the Bill currently stands, the definition of serious violence in the prevention duty does not explicitly include domestic abuse, domestic homicide or sexual violence – something Refuge wants to change.
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, a patron of the charity, said she will “certainly be putting an amendment in in the House of Lords”.
“In this Bill, there is a serious violence duty and what we’re seeking to do is to have violence against women and girls included in it,” she said, adding that it should be given the same priority as terrorism.
It should not be left to local areas to decide whether to include domestic abuse, domestic homicide or sexual violence in their new serious violence prevention strategies, according to Baroness Kennedy, who has spent much of her career dealing with violence against women.
“One of the problems that we have around policing is that we have many different regional police forces – over 40,” she told PA.
“And as a result, policing priorities will change and it’s right that in some areas there will be at a particular time, a set of priorities that will be different from somewhere else. But violence against women and girls is universal and it is across the whole of the country and so it should be up there wherever the policing is done.”
Baroness Kennedy also lamented that in the vast majority of cases where women have been killed by someone they know, they have not received a suitable response from police when they have alerted officers to being stalked or harassed “because it’s seen as trivial offending, and yet it’s often a precursor to more serious crimes”.
Jo Brand a comedian and ambassador for Refuge, echoed that sentiment, saying women often feel they are not being taken seriously by police in reporting domestic violence.
She called recent advice released by the Metropolitan Police after Couzens’ sentencing which suggested women who fear a lone male police officer might not be genuine to run into a house or wave down a bus “ridiculous”.
“The onus is not on us (women) to poke people in the eye with a key if we think they’re a bit dodgy,” she told PA. “I think it’s time we’re a bit more protected.”
“To me there’s still a hidden epidemic of domestic violence which is not taken seriously, which the police need to take more seriously and where men need to stand up with women and say ‘we’re not having this’,” said the comedian, who also criticised what she called a culture of “misogyny and laddism” in the police.