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WOMENS WORDS

Why are they taking Sex out of Sexual Harassment?


Women’s Rights Network recently wrote to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Mark Rowley, regarding political activism within the service. We are in contact with serving police officers and police staff who are desperate for change and are in despair at the ideological capture of the police service and the inability of weak police leadership to deal with concerns decisively.


It was encouraging, therefore, to learn this week that the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, has announced a review into police impartiality. It’s well overdue. The response to this review by the body representing the Chief Constables, the National Association of Police Chiefs (NPCC), will be critical.


Unfortunately, they seem depressingly unable or unwilling to listen to women and are entirely captured by gender ideology. From their outrageous decision to implement opposite-sex strip searching, to examples of politically motivated arrests and interventions, the police have shown they cannot be trusted to review or police themselves.



The Police service has been rocked by scandal after scandal, too, with predatory officers, sexually explicit conversations in WhatsApp groups, and allegations of endemic sexism. There is an urgent need for real action that will make a positive difference.


Public confidence in policing has reached crisis point.


With very few exceptions, what these issues have in common is that they are sex based. Overwhelmingly, they concern male officers subjecting female colleagues or female members of the public to unacceptable behaviour. This reflects everything we already know about sexual offending generally and is also highly likely to be the case for sexual harassment in the workplace.


You’d think, then, that a survey, commissioned to identify the scale of sexual harassment within policing would want accurate and reliable data that clearly identifies the sex of all concerned. You’d think that senior Police Chiefs would understand why this mattered. Wouldn’t you?


Wrong.


Initially, it was really encouraging to hear that a service-wide internal survey is currently taking place, delivered by a senior psychology lecturer, and commissioned by the lead NPCC officer for this specific problem, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Travis of South Wales Police. The survey itself is paid for by the four Welsh forces (the Welsh public, in other words) and surely has noble intentions. Indeed, the intention of the academic delivering is to design:


“a risk assessment tool to assist the police in identifying officers who are engaging in the above-mentioned behaviours”.


We’d be very much in favour of this. Why wouldn’t we be? However, reliable quantitative and qualitative data is essential in developing such a tool.


Depressingly then, instead of recording the sex of participants, the survey requests instead to know their ‘gender identity’. It provides ‘gender identity’ options that include ‘non-binary’. Why is the police force not bothering to find out the sex of those who have experienced sexual harassment?


Surely, the clue is in the title?


This makes no sense whatsoever, particularly when scanning other findings by the academic involved, Dr Fay Sweeting of Bournemouth University. Dr Sweeting is a former police officer herself and states that her main area of study is:

sexual misconduct within the police - inclusive of abuse of position for a sexual purpose as well as internal sexism, bullying and misogyny”.

She also claims to be a member of two NPCC working groups, on abuse of position, and internal sexual misconduct, as well as a HMIC academic research group. Dr Sweeting has previously commented in an article in Policing Insight in 2020 reporting her analysis of police sexual misconduct cases that:

the vast majority of officers involved in sexual misconduct are male. For the handful of female officers in our sample, almost all were involved in sexual relationships with offenders”.

So, Dr Sweeting knows that the sex of those involved is inextricably linked to such cases. Despite this, it is clear throughout the information sheet provided with the survey, and throughout the survey itself, that every effort is made to replace sex with ‘gender’. The information sheet stipulates that “We welcome and appreciate any and all participants regardless of gender identity”.

Just absorb that for a moment.


The police service is making a clear statement via this survey that sex (a protected characteristic in the Equality Act 2010) can be dispensed with, in favour of the nebulous, non-legal, and ideological term of ‘gender identity’. And this is in a survey that purports to look at the scale of ‘sexual’ harassment – not ‘gender identity’ harassment. Just what on earth is going on here and how can they ever hope to address sexual harassment when they have corrupted their own data?


When you consider what the survey is intended to address – sexual harassment in the workplace – you have to feel very sorry for female police officers and police staff. This survey will not even accurately identify who is being subjected to sexual harassment, much less make any meaningful improvements.


We already know the huge difference that just one male identifying as a woman can make to statistics where female offending is rare. Should this survey identify that statistically there are lots more ‘male’ victims than typical and lots more ‘female’ offenders than usual, then the Police will build their response and a predictive tool on this. It’s a mess based on fanciful notions and not on reality.


Urgent action is needed

  1. The current survey must be withdrawn and redesigned to incorporate sex rather than gender identity.

  2. Women’s groups such as our own must be involved in a consultancy capacity to inform and advise the review of policing impartiality.


It is past time for the Police to clear the influence of gender ideology from their policies and decisions and stick to the law of the land. What hope does British policing have of addressing its appalling issues of sexism and misogyny when this is how they collect data and evidence?


Meanwhile, female officers, staff, and members of the public will be put at risk as senior officers continue their flirtation with this incoherent belief system.






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