Response 439724786

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Risks

1. Does the Policing 2026 strategy identify and acknowledge the main risks, challenges, opportunities and demands likely to impact on policing over the next 10 years?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Not sure
We would welcome any view you have.
The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre welcomes the opportunity to feed into the Policing 2026 Strategy. We consider that it does identify and acknowledge most of the main foreseeable risks, challenges, opportunities and demands for the next 10 years. However, there are omissions within this and areas where further detail and clarification would be welcome. Specifically the strategy does not sufficiently consider how certain crimes which aren’t explored due to sensitivities – such as online grooming – will benefit from the investment in technology noted, or from the increased operational focus. Similarly, it is not clear how changes to operational policing will interact with changes to the law. For example, the welcome new law on domestic abuse expected to come into place later this year will require a considerable shift in understanding for officers, specifically around coercive control. It is our view that the publication of this strategy should be seized as an opportunity by Police Scotland to signal to the public both its priorities and its approach to working with victims of crime. This is especially important working within the context of victim-survivors of gender based violence, who frequently fear that their experiences will be received with judgement or disbelief.

Focus

2. Do you agree the main areas of focus proposed within the Policing 2026 strategy are the right ones to deliver an enhanced policing service?

Please select one item
Strongly agree
Ticked Mostly agree
Not sure
Mostly disagree
Strongly disagree
Please tell us why you think these are the right or wrong areas of focus?
The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre are clear that prevention is critical to addressing the root causes of gender based violence, thus we particularly welcome the focus on prevention and protection with respect to women and children survivors of gender based violence. We consider that an emphasis on partnership working and a focus on improving the health and wellbeing of victims in justice settings is important. However, it is our view that preventative work will have the greatest impact, including awareness raising and attitude changing campaigns and offender management programmes. Given the often imminent threat to women experiencing abuse, routes to coordinated responses and better protections for those experiencing or at risk of abuse must be explored. In particular this should include a greater use of partnership working with other services such as health, education, social work and third sector agencies. It is our view that consideration should be given by Police Scotland to advising or improving access to protections through the civil justice process where appropriate; for example, this might include women survivors of gender based violence accessing Civil Non Harassment Orders via the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre. This could significantly improve the safety of women and girls in Scotland. Low conviction rates for gender based violence are indisputably a significant problem when it comes to justice in Scotland. Prosecutions and convictions of gender based violence must be significantly improved and barriers to achieving this addressed. The requirement for corroboration still impedes convictions and this disproportionately impacts cases of gender based violence where the majority of crimes happen in private, where there can be delayed reporting, and where there are issues around stigma and ‘honour’. An increase in convictions will send a clear message that change is possible, and Police Scotland clearly have a vital role to play in doing this through a robust response to gender based violence with detailed investigations. We welcome the focus on diversity; the staffing of Police Scotland should as far as possible reflect the communities it serves with protected characteristics represented at all levels within the professional hierarchy of Police Scotland. In particular we welcome the stated intention to conduct and publish the results of an equality impact assessment on the final draft of the strategy. The focus on both geographical and demographic communities is good, and developments in this area must be undertaken with full involvement and participation of the communities. Gender based violence can happen to anyone regardless of age, ethnicity, religion, class, sexual orientation or disability etc. but we must be clear that it predominantly happens to women and girls and is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men. Intersectionality must be a central thread in responses to survivors of gender based violence and must inform the knowledge base in how officers approach cases. Knowledge and understanding of specific communities, informed by said communities, will be essential to achieving this and to address some of the specific barriers that survivors encounter when considering reporting or when engaged with the criminal justice process. Emphasis on the virtual world is rightly critical to the adaptability of Police Scotland and to developing a robust response to the significant challenges that we face in the realm of technology and gender based violence. In particular this will be essential to improving child protection and to responding to wider issues such as grooming and the non-consensual sharing of intimate images.

Methods

3. Do you agree the methods proposed within this strategy are the right ones to deliver an improved policing service?

Please select one item
Strongly agree
Ticked Mostly agree
Not sure
Mostly disagree
Strongly disagree

Performance

4. The Policing 2026 Strategy states that public confidence will be a key measure of success and the effectiveness of Police performance. Do you agree with this approach?

Please select one item
Strongly agree
Ticked Mostly agree
Not sure
Mostly disagree
Strongly disagree
We would welcome any views you have
The effectiveness of the Police performance will to an extent be reflected in public confidence. This being said, public confidence in policing is not only informed by their experiences of engagement with the police, it is also informed by victims’ experiences of the whole justice process and by the attitudes and values of society. Additionally and critically it is affected by outcomes – successful convictions, levels of reoffending and how safe people feel. For gender based violence to be addressed every aspect of the above must be considered and clearly and consistently communicated with the public. Currently sexual crimes make up 70% of high court cases, yet no clear message about the significance of this is communicated. What does it mean? Is offending increasing? Is reporting increasing? Are we more or less safe? The strategy itself acknowledges but evades these questions. A further key outcome may be how partners or stakeholders – who are noted as essential – regard collaborative work, what opportunities or improvements have resulted and where improvements can be made. Given the focus on technology more clarity is needed about how success in this regard will be measured. Will technological developments improve best evidence? Will they provide quicker, more corroborative evidence and will they enhance operational policing by saving time and resources?

Workforce

5. The Policing 2026 strategy highlights that we will need to re-shape our organisation with a workforce focussed on having the right skills and capacity to meet future challenges. Do you agree with this approach?

Please select one item
Ticked Strongly agree
Mostly agree
Not sure
Mostly disagree
Strongly disagree
We would welcome any views you have.
Having highly skilled and trained staffing is essential for the effectiveness of Police Scotland. Critical to this is recognition of the importance of specialisms, and staff must be given ample time to develop this, without unexpectedly changing portfolio as happens frequently. When key contacts are redeployed it takes time to build the new relationships that are essential for constructive and productive partnership working. The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre supports the establishing of specialisms in gender based violence such as the Domestic Abuse Task Force and the National Rape Task Force. Alongside initiatives such as the Police Referral Protocol with Rape Crisis Scotland and the online information sharing portal, these provide important services to survivors, enhance understanding between agencies and create spaces for further partnership work. They build trust between agencies by creating a dialogue that benefits survivors individually and facilitates greater developments strategically. Focusing on skills and specialism is essential in improving responses to survivors of gender based violence and SWRC welcomes such an approach. The development of task forces across the spectrum of gender based violence would be welcome, as would improved communication between task forces where more than one form of abuse is experienced.

Clear & Understandable

6. Is the strategy presented in a clear and understandable way?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
We would welcome any views you have.
Yes, however a clearer representation of timescales would be helpful.

Other views

7. We would welcome any additional views you have on our strategy and how it will affect you, or any other person.

We would welcome any views you have.
The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre are of the view that innovative collaborative working with partners, particularly around gender based issues is important and that there is scope for more of this going forward. In view of the fact that regardless of Police Scotland’s best efforts (and not necessarily a reflection of their response) many victims of gender based violence just don’t have the courage or confidence to report to police. This clearly creates a risk both to that individual and beyond. The National Advocacy Project and the Stalking App are excellent examples of the value of partners not only in assisting in terms of the reluctance to report, but also in terms of a shared resource burden. In our view, more working like this and some effort in developing further collaborative responses is a win/win. The victim is able to access appropriate supportive services at an early stage – during which it is hoped the confidence in the criminal justice system is enhanced – AND the resource requirement from the police is reduced. The ongoing criminal justice reform suggests this is an ideal time to start looking at some more radical, contemporary responses.

About you

10. Are you responding as an individual or an organisation?

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(Required)
I am answering as an individual
Ticked I am answering on behalf of an organisation
Organisation Name
Scottish Women's Rights Centre