Police to get compulsory training on violence against women under Labour plans

<span>Sarah Everard, who was murdered by a Met officer, prompting a report by Elish Angiolini.</span><span>Photograph: PA</span>
Sarah Everard, who was murdered by a Met officer, prompting a report by Elish Angiolini.Photograph: PA

A Labour government would order every police officer in England and Wales to undergo compulsory training on combating violence against women and girls, the Guardian has learned.

The plans are being drawn up by the party and come in the wake of the shockwaves from Elish Angiolini’s report on Thursday into the Wayne Couzens scandal after his murder of Sarah Everard while serving in the Metropolitan police.

Under the plans, a former chief constable advise would the party on the best training for officers and what topics should be covered.

Labour bosses think the training must be mandatory. Currently, it is up to individual forces and police and crime commissioners what level of training officers get in protecting women.

Olivia Pinkney, the chief constable of Hampshire until 2023, will advise Labour on the scheme. She has served in the Sussex force and worked for His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, the policing watchdog.

Pinkney said: “Raising standards in the police and improving the culture of forces is vital work. I hope my experience during three decades in policing will be helpful to Labour as it develops its plans.”

The training would aim to make officers more aware of the signs of what is usually male violence perpetrated against women and girls, from signs of abuse from partners, stalking, harassment or abuse in the streets.

Labour hopes the boost in officers’ skills would increase the confidence of victims to come forward, support prosecutions and regain the public’s trust in the criminal justice system.

The College of Policing, which sets standards in law enforcement, offers online learning modules. Labour favours in-person training, believing it to be more effective.

A Labour source said: “A lot of things are left to forces to decide what to do. In the wake of Angiolini and other scandals, there has to be something more solid.

“This has to be a priority for every chief constable and force. This is not just a tick-box exercise; this has to be meaningful.”

The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, said: “A series of catastrophic failings have underlined why we urgently need proper training for the police to deal with violence against women and girls. That means mandatory national standards so that all forces are following best practice. We will work with former chief constable Olivia Pinkney to develop training that is practical and of the highest standard.”

Crime is expected to be a key issue in the forthcoming general election. Cooper has accused the Conservative government of doing too little about a succession of scandals involving police failures towards women, or the wider culture in policing.

Related: Elish Angiolini: Sarah Everard inquiry chair who’s held Scotland’s top legal roles

The most serious are Couzens’ murder of Everard in March 2021 and the revelations that his colleague in the Met’s parliamentary and diplomatic protection command, David Carrick, was one of Britain’s worst serial sex attackers, admitting to 85 offences.