Tory women’s group calls for investigation into police misogyny

Conservative Young Women condemns ‘deplorable’ police response to violence against women

The Conservatives’ young women’s group has called for an investigation into “the apparent culture of misogyny in the police”, piling pressure on Boris Johnson after he faced down calls for a major independent inquiry.

Conservative Young Women spoke out in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder and after Met police officers were charged over photographs taken at the scene of the murders of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, which were then allegedly shared in a WhatsApp group.

They called the response from the police “deplorable … from the overzealous policing of Sarah Everard’s vigil, to public statements which effectively blame victims”.

“Many of us feel unsafe and all of us are sad and angry that the epidemic of violence against women and girls has been left unaddressed for so long,” the group said, adding: “Every one of us has thought to ourselves, ‘That could have been me.’”

The group, which represents women in the party under 35, said political leaders needed to make urgent recommendations to police forces including tougher and swifter action against police officers under investigation for misogyny or violence towards women.

In response, at an event hosted by the group, the solicitor general Alex Chalk warned there would be scrutiny of the actions of Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick.

“The home secretary will be watching very closely to see that the vetting issue is properly investigated and scrutinised because a lot of people will have real concerns about how Wayne Couzens slipped through the net, and they’ll want to be absolutely satisfied that things are about to improve,” he said.

At the CYW event, Nimco Ali, a close friend of the prime minister’s wife, Carrie Johnson, said there needed to be a “societal shift” on misogyny which meant “tackling the horny scaffolder just in the way we did the racist uncle … we have to make those conversations socially unacceptable.”

The group’s chair, Ella Robertson McKay, said political leaders were “feeling the heat” on the issue and that the group would continue to campaign throughout conference.

“This is systemic, structural misogyny at its worst,” she told the Guardian. She said police forces must commit to a much tougher line on misogyny among officers.

“When you can see social media groups with who is on it, what the comments are and who said what – in any other private business you would be out the door that afternoon.”

CYW said there should be a review into the “apparent culture of misogyny in the police, the sharing of images of victims, and why a serving police officer [reportedly] nicknamed ‘the rapist’ by his fellow officers was not investigated for inappropriate behaviour”.

The group’s statement was backed by the Tory chair of the Commons’ women and equalities committee, Caroline Nokes, who also criticised the Tory chair Oliver Dowden after he said it was “crass” to refer to male privilege.

Nokes said the CYW statement gave “proactive suggestions to help rebuild trust in the police and address some of the underlying issues about male violence against women.”

“We need to not just focus on repeat offenders, but look at the gateway offences, and crack down on them,” she said. “If the government is serious, it needs to act now, not use day one of the conference to deny male privilege exists.”

The foreign secretary, Liz Truss, who is minister for women and equalities, declined at a Telegraph fringe event to say the Met was institutionally misogynist. “But I do think we need a change of culture in the police, where there have been appalling failings,” she said.

Speaking earlier, Boris Johnson rejected calls for a public inquiry into the police’s failings on sexual violence and in the Everard case, saying investigations by the Met and the Independent Office for Police Conduct should be allowed to happen first.


Jessica Elgot

The GuardianTramp

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