News | Press Release

31 January 2024

Refuge releases new data revealing low rates of women’s confidence in the police to handle VAWG crimes

  • According to a recent YouGov survey of 1,051 women (18+) in England and Wales, 53% of women said that the police had made not much or no progress in addressing problems of sexism and misogyny among police officers over the last year.
  • 59% of women said that immediate suspension of officers accused of VAWG, as demanded by Refuge’s ‘Remove the Rot’ campaign, would increase their trust in the police.
  • 39% said they had not much or no trust in the police to handle the issue of violence against women and girls.
  • A quarter of women (25%) said their trust in the police to handle violence against women and girls has gone down over the last year.

New data published by domestic abuse charity Refuge, obtained via YouGov polling, shows women are not confident that police have made progress in addressing misogyny within the force over the last 12 months.

The survey into women’s attitudes, trust and confidence in the police polled more than 1,000 women throughout England and Wales with over half (53%) of those surveyed believing that the police have made not very much, or no progress at all in addressing sexism and misogyny in the last year.

A quarter of women (25%) said their trust in the police to tackle violence against women and girls had gone down over the last 12 months, and 59% said that their trust in the police would increase if a policy of immediate suspension from duty for any police officer of staff member accused of violence against women and girls was introduced. Which supports Refuge’s calls for immediate suspension of any officers accused of violence against and women and girls, to remove the rot within police forces operating in England and Wales.

In January 2023, Refuge placed 1,071 rotten apples outside New Scotland Yard and launched the ‘Remove the Rot’ campaign to raise awareness of police misconduct in relation to violence against women and girls. The 1,071 prop apples reflected the number of Met police officers who around the time were under investigation for allegations of domestic abuse or violence against women and girls.

One year on, new data reveals that women’s confidence in the police to tackle VAWG-related crimes is woefully low across the country. Low levels of confidence among women reflect the bleak reality, that a full year on from Refuge’s campaign launch, the police have failed to take necessary action to both swiftly root out and prevent perpetrators from joining their ranks.

Deanna*, a survivor of domestic abuse shares her impression of the police:

“I have always felt police are unsafe, particularly because of those who take up these roles for power and control. When the default mode is to protect abusers, how can we feel safe? They’ve already decided they’re siding with the perpetrator – and wilfully ignorant in this area.”

Genevieve*, a survivor of domestic abuse, says:

“How can we encourage survivors to come forward when each of us have a negative experience with the police? We can’t tell our friends to go and report a crime when they wouldn’t be believed.”

Ada* a survivor of domestic abuse, says:

“Domestic abuse is not taken seriously. Preparators of police perpetrated abuse goes hand in hand with the dismissal of the concerns of victims of domestic abuse.”

Ellen Miller, Interim CEO of Refuge said:

“Last January Refuge launched our ‘Remove the Rot’ campaign. We couldn’t stay silent whilst a serving Met officer was convicted of 85 serious offences including rape and other domestic abuse offences. In March 2023, the Casey Review offered piercing insight into The Met as an institutionally misogynist, homophobic and racist institution, highlighting that policing attracts those who wish to abuse their power – confirming what survivors of police perpetrated abuse have long known to be true.

In September, Refuge conducted an investigation in partnership with The Independent, shockingly revealing that only 24% of police officers accused of violence against women and girls (VAWG) between 2022 and 2023, were suspended while under investigation, leaving potential perpetrators unchecked in positions of power. This is not just a problem within The Met but an issue with police forces throughout the country. We know police officers are a third less likely to be convicted for domestic abuse than non-police officers and that the police are not doing enough to keep women and girls safe by implementing measures needed to eradicate the endemic misogyny within the force at large.

These findings should have set in motion urgent root and branch reform within policing to prevent the possibility of such heinous crimes from being allowed to take place within the force again. But a year on from the launch of our campaign, little has changed when it comes to misogynistic attitudes within policing.

Refuge are calling for the immediate suspension of police officers and staff accused of VAWG to protect women and girls from further harm by potential abusers. Suspending police officers accused of VAWG will ensure they cannot use policing tools of power and control whist under investigation, limiting their ability to influence investigations and coerce survivors. We also demand that the time between the initial police vetting, and re-vetting period is reduced from 10 years to 5 years or less in England and Wales. Women’s trust and confidence in policing must be restored so that survivors of domestic abuse can report the crimes committed against them.”