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Austerity hit police’s ability to tackle violence against women, say ex-officers

Austerity

Austerity hit police’s ability to tackle violence against women, say ex-officers

Systematic underfunding of the police in England and Wales during 10 years of austerity “severely diminished” officers’ ability to recognise and target criminals who attack women and girls, according to former senior police figures.

They called for a “Stephen Lawrence moment” of transformation in the service and a full judge-led inquiry to restore faith in policing.

Dal Babu, a former chief superintendent with the Metropolitan police who retired in 2013, said more than a decade of austerity had dealt “a massive body blow” to the police and hampered its ability to tackle male violence against women and girls.

“Resources have never been pulled in such a dramatic way as they have been in the last 10 years – and people want to relinquish responsibility, but this happened on the Lib Dem watch, and the Conservative watch,” he said, referring partly to the coalition government in power from 2010 to 2015.

According to analysis by the police researcher Gavin Hales, published by the Police Foundation, after nine years of austerity in March 2019 the 43 territorial police forces in England and Wales had reduced their total number of police officers by 16% (from 143,734 to 123,170), police staff by 19% (from 79,596 to 64,411) and community support officers by 42% (from 16,507 to 9,565). An estimated 400 to 600 police stations were closed or sold off.

Babu said that while an additional 20,000 police officers had been promised by the current government, civilian staff supporting officers to analyse trends and data were not getting a similar boost.

“Effectively, in the last 10 to 11 years you’ve had police officers taken off the street, poorly trained, not necessarily with the right skills, then trying to do the job of professional analysts and intelligence experts,” he said.

Betsy Stanko, an academic who worked in the Met for 11 years, setting up its social science research unit, said that while many police officers were “desperately trying to do a good job investigating violence to women”, it was time for policing to recognise the scale of the crisis and called for a publicly consulted roadmap to transform the organisation.

“The systematic underfunding of policing over the past 10 years has resulted in cuts particularly to the policing of violence against women and girls,” she said. “The specialist investigative skills identifying patterns of offending have been severely diminished through austerity. Crimes of violence against women and girls need police officers who have specialist skills and knowledge about offenders – underfunding undermines good policing and demoralises good police officers.”

Babu said the home secretary, Priti Patel, risked “tinkering around the edges” after announcing an investigation to examine why the former Met police officer Wayne Couzens, who was last week given a whole-life sentence for the murder of Sarah Everard, had not been identified as a sexually aggressive predator. He added his voice to calls for a judge-led public inquiry into wider issues of sexism and women’s access to justice.

“Shockingly, there is not a single person who I meet who does not know a woman who has been the victim of some kind of abuse. That is absolutely appalling,” he said. “We need a Stephen Lawrence moment here, where we acknowledge the way that we’re failing women and young girls. We need a proper inquiry that looks at the wider criminal justice issues and addresses how you make a real change as opposed to tinkering at the edges.”

The prime minister, Boris Johnson, has rejected calls for an immediate public inquiry.

Victor Olisa, formerly the Met’s most senior black officer and now a criminologist and lecturer, said there had been a “deafening silence” from police leaders about how they would tackle the failure to address crimes against women and girls.

“One of the significant worries about this set of incidents, with Sarah’s tragic murder being the centre of that, is the silence from the chief officers across the country,” he said.

“I’ve heard sorry, I’ve heard that Couzens let us down – but as a public institution, we haven’t heard what the police are going to do about it.”

He accused the Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, of being slow to reassure the public that action was being taken, adding that the six months between Couzens’ admission of guilt and his sentencing should have been enough time to create a plan of action. The Met has announced an independent inquiry and said it would publish a strategy for tackling violence against women and girls soon.

“They need to reassure us that they’re doing something, that they have got a grip, that they have got a plan – they need to tell us they see a different future,” said Olisa.

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I Will Soon Start Signing Death Warrants- Bala Mohammed

Bauchi state governor, Bala Mohammed has disclosed that he will soon start to sign death warrants.

Mohammed made this known on Friday in Bauchi while signing the Violence against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) bill and a bill for the establishment of the Bauchi state penal code, into law.

In Nigeria, state governors are legally backed to sign the death warrants.

Since 2012, no governor has been reported to have signed death warrants.

“We will soon be signing some death sentences because there are many and because of justice which has to be taken to a logical conclusion

“I know some governors are running away from signing the death sentences because they exercise restraints on the basis that there may be some element of error.

“But to me, I will leave it to my lord (the chief judge) who will prosecute. It’s not my fault. If it is brought to my attention, I will do it.”

“As for the Violence against Persons Prohibition Act, we know that we are the first in the northern part of the country to enact the law, which is a member’s bill incidentally from the honourable speaker, and it has earned us a lot of respect in the country.

“But because of some noticed gaps, it was taken back and it was corrected. We thank the house for making the corrections.”

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Court Sacks 13 Ebonyi LG Bosses, 171 Councilors

A Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki has again nullified the Ebonyi Local Government Elections and sacked all the 13 Council chairmen in the state.

The court also sacked all the councilors and 171 ward chairmen of the state.

The court had on Aug. 25, nullified the council polls of May 31.

Ruling on the matter with suit NO: FHC/AI/CS/224/2022 on Friday, Justice Fatun Riman ordered the seizure of the monthly federal allocation of the chairmen pending when rightful Chief Executives were elected into office.

Fatun restated that the councils election by the State Independent Electoral Commission (EBSIEC) on May 31 was illegal and unconstitutional.

Mr Mudi Erenede, Counsel to the plaintiff said he was happy over the judgment and commended the court.

“In the judgement today, the court has agreed that the Ebonyi State High court has no powers to override or set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court because it is not an Appeal Court.

“Those people, who are parading themselves as chairmen are not there legally.

“They were appointed by whoever that appointed them. CBN, Attorney General of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Finance are all defendants in this suits,” he stated.

The counsel to Ebonyi State Government, Mr Roy Nweze, said there was no need responding to a judgment that had already been delivered by the court.

Nweze said that the matter would be appealed without delay.

(NAN)

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Naval College Graduates 245 Officers, Personnel

The newly graduated personnel of the Officers’ Application Course 20 of the Nigerian Naval Engineering College (NNEC), Sapele in Delta, have been urged to remain committed to the service of the nation.

Rear Adm. Monday Unurhiere, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Naval Training Command, made the plea at the graduation ceremony of the 245 Under Training Personnel of the Officers’ Application Course 20 in Sapele.

Unurhiere, represented by Rear Adm. Baratuaipri Iyalla, said that the call became necessary in view of the security, economic and social challenges currently facing the country.

The naval chief urged the graduands to make deliberate efforts to improve themselves on the job by way of taking advantage of modern technology and also tapping into the wealth of experience of their superiors.

“Let me remind you that as officers of the Nigerian Navy, you are charged with enormous responsibility and your unswerving allegiance is to the Nation.

“The confidence reposed in you must not be taking for granted, especially at this time that our national aspirations are being threatened by numerous security, economic and social challenges.

“As such, you may find yourself being called upon to serve beyond your technical capability due to the prevailing situation in the country,” he said.

Unurhiere acknowledged the efforts of the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo, for creating the enabling environment for training and continued financial support to NNEC.

According to him, this has helped the College to contribute more to the technological advancement of Nigerian Navy and the nation at large.

He urged the graduands, especially the under training personnel, to maintain the current tempo in sustaining training and other naval activities.

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