This event is exclusive to Friends of Tortoise
Throughout 2021, the policing of violence against women and girls has come under renewed and widespread scrutiny. Why are police forces consistently failing to protect women and girls from sexual and violent crime? Are priorities being skewed? Does prevention work have low status compared to ‘after the event’ sleuthing to catch criminals? Is the policing of domestic abuse (which can lead to domestic homicide) viewed as too difficult and complex – effectively social work, rather than crime prevention? Do women and girls just count for less?
In the year of the last Royal Commission on Policing, Harold Macmillan was prime minister and The Beatles released Love Me Do. Since then, and especially in the last few years, the gap between the policing that we need now and the policing that we have has become apparent. The aim of this Inquiry is to ask precise questions of serving and former police officers, policy makers and the public to discover how modern British policing actually works, in order that we can better understand why it goes wrong, and whether it can be fixed.
Be part of the Policing Inquiry
Tortoise is an open newsroom, built with and for our members. There are lots of ways you can contribute to our reporting on this critical issue.
The Policing Inquiry is part of a wider investigative project into sexism and the police. The Inquiry conversations are designed to flush out new insights, deepen our understanding and identify important information gaps which could become potential stories. We will do this by listening to the experiences of invited experts, members and specially invited guests.
How to join in
On the day, we will invite contributions on-screen from members of the audience as well as the invited experts. The Chat function will be open throughout. If you’d rather remain anonymous, that’s fine. If you’d rather just watch, that’s fine too – we won’t be putting anybody ‘on the spot’.
If you have any further questions about the Inquiry, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to talk off the record?
If you would like to talk to us in confidence about something relating to the Policing Inquiry – whether it’s an interesting data point, a story idea or a personal experience – please write to email@example.com.
Recruitment, training and reward: Are police systems sexist, or just policemen?
Who are police officers? What is their educational background, motivation and experience? What skills do they have? How are they vetted, before they join the force and throughout their careers? How are police officers incentivised? What systems are in place to nurture, or scupper, a police career? What does it feel like to be a female police officer? Does policing especially appeal to sexist men, or does a policing career breed misogyny?
Values, behaviour and language: What is police culture?
What is the value system that underpins police culture? Who shapes those values, and how do they manifest? What are the conscious (and unconscious) norms and expectations that dictate how police people behave, with one another and the public they exist to serve? Has this culture evolved over time, or is it fundamentally unchanged? How does police culture adapt and evolve along with the wider culture, if at all?
Rotten on the inside – what does it take to fight police discrimination in your own workplace?
When firearms officer Rhona Malone challenged Police Scotland on the sexism and victimisation she’d encountered at work, she ended up signed off sick, then sidelined, isolated, and unable to go back to work. This year she won her employment tribunal. But the process was punishing and significantly affected her health: she now campaigns for other victims of workplace discrimination. What goes wrong when a female police officer calls out sexism? Why is this type of discrimination so culturally accepted within the police? Do the HR systems designed to support female officers who make complaints really work in practice? What happens to police whistleblowers – and the colleagues who back them? Where is the accountability for officers who act in discriminatory ways? What would work better to ensure female officers were able to progress in their careers?
The politics of policing: is ending violence against women just not a vote winner?
What is the nature of the relationship between the Home Office and the police? The principal responsibility of any government is to keep its citizens safe. Political ideology around crime and policing – not least because it informs funding – is a critical component in shaping police priorities and the way police work gets done. What has been the impact on policing violence against women and girls of successive Home Secretaries’ varying priorities around criminal justice? Have cuts to police funding disproportionately impacted the policing of, say, domestic abuse and rape?
Police and the media: who’s protecting who?
The media – with all its political affiliations, biases and vested interests – play a key role in shaping public opinion about policing. Have the media failed in their duty to expose the extent that policing has been failing women, and if so, why? How have public levels of trust in the police evolved over time, and how do they vary between men and women? What have been the key incidents that have shaped that perception? How do the police interact with the media now? What will it take to unpick persistent myths – such as victim blaming – about male violence that repeatedly appear in the news?
Editorial To Do List: what next?
Based on all we’ve heard throughout the Inquiry, join us for an open editorial meeting with Tortoise editors and contributors to work up an editorial To Do list – what data do we need? What FOI requests should be submitted? Who can we collaborate with? What and who are our key investigative targets?