Review of Scotland’s police vetting procedures urged following Sarah Everard murder

Liberal Democrats have backed a call for a review of police vetting procedures as part of a series of measures to help tackle violence against women.

The party made the plea in the wake of the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Metropolitan police officer.

In addition, the Lib Dems want to see misogyny made a hate crime – something Scottish Justice Secretary Keith Brown has suggested “may well” happen – and for a commission to be set up to look at how to prevent violence against women and girls.

Activists at the party’s Scottish conference overwhelmingly backed a motion calling for the changes, as ministers in both Edinburgh and London were urged to do more to tackle the problem.

Caron Lindsay, the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ social security spokeswoman, recalled how she had feared for her life when she was threatened by a man while out walking her dog.

Ms Lindsay told the virtual conference: “Both our governments need to step up and show us all that they are taking this seriously.

“It is just so profoundly depressing that virtually every woman still doesn’t feel safe walking around, especially at night.

“A couple of years ago I was threatened by a man when I was walking my dog. Five minutes of escalating threats of violence seemed like a lifetime.

“It was quite minor in the scheme of things I guess, but I really feared for my life.

“And by the time the police came and took my statement six days later, he had done the same to another women.”

Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine described the problem of violence against woman as “an emergency we are only too aware of but we seem unable to deal with”.

She said: “Every three days in the UK it is estimated a woman is killed by a man. Yes it is an emergency.

“We all want to do something about violence against women and girls, we all believe that it is wrong.

“But we have to work, we have to persuade the Scottish Government that they have to lead.”

Former police officer Wendy Chamberlain, who is now MP for North East Fife, insisted: “Enough is enough. For too long, women and girls have had to change their behaviour in an attempt to work around the constant threat of violence and harassment. It’s time for that responsibility to shift elsewhere.

“This needs to be more than just a re-heated version of existing strategies. We need an NHS-style awareness campaign, and new training and support for all those in public-facing public sector roles so that problematic behaviour can be identified and addressed.

“Policing culture needs to see a step-change to build back public trust. The canteen cultures that breed poor attitudes need to become a thing of the past.

“Women need to be able to feel safe again.”

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992