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Police Scotland’s VAWG strategy has eye on future threats

The force’s VAWG strategy is due to be discussed by the full SPA Board next week.

Police Scotland’s new VAWG strategy will see a focus on technological advances, random vetting sampling and continued work with Victim Navigators.

The Draft Implementation Plan, due to be discussed by the SPA Board this week, sets out a number of commitments.

“We all must work to turn the narrative away from preventative advice to women and victim-blaming. Instead, we must focus on a cultural shift which encourages men to listen, reflect and take action to challenge or change their own behaviours and views,” the plan outlines.

There is a clear focus within the plan on anticipating future threats – not least of which are advances in technology.

Police Scotland has outlined a number of emerging threats including cyber flashing, upskirting and romance fraud.

Also referenced within the plan is ‘Virtual Reality Sexual Assault’ which the force expects to become more of a problem with the creation of new online communities facilitated by virtual and augmented reality.

Meanwhile, the rise of contemporary men’s rights movements is on the radar – also existing predominantly through online communities.

An area of the internet called the ‘manosphere’ is “reshap[ing] the male supremacy ideology" the strategy says. It consists mostly of male-orientated websites, forums and blogs united by anti-feminist agenda.

Incels (Involuntary Celibates) have become the most predominant CMRM group – since 2104 16 CMRM supporters have committed extremist motivated acts – killing approximately 67 people.

Other future developments include legislation - the Scottish Government has made a commitment to abolish the ‘not proven’ verdict. It’s a verdict that disproportionately affects rape and sexual assault cases – Rape Crisis Scotland says that ‘not proven’ accounts for 44% rape and attempted rape aquittals compared with 20% for all crimes.

The government is further reviewing an approach to tackled commercial sexual exploitation. The ‘Nordic Model’ criminalises the purchase of sex and decriminalises victims of sexual exploitation – it has already been adopted in Sweden, Norway and Northern Ireland.

The force is further looking at creating an Online Child Sexual Abuse desk to look at intelligence gaps and opportunities for prevention and disruption.

Unsurprisingly, there is a section of the report dedicated to ‘Trust and Confidence’. Police Scotland’s vetting function is under-resourced compared with other forces, the strategy reads.

In the future, Police Scotland officers may see random sampling focussing on reviewing recruitment vetting, a complaints database tracking demographics and protected communities of those within communities reporting sexual misconduct and APSP, and publication of anonymised case studies of officers/staff who have lost their jobs due to gender-based violence.

The draft implementation plan further commits to a deep dive of applications via the Force Vetting Unit to identify trends and anticipate future threats as well as developing a digital process to help with demand in recruitment vetting.

“This strategy is only the beginning,” it reads.

“We will continue to engage with and listen to survivors of violence and work with our partners to ensure that all women and girls feel listened to, believed, and supported. We are committed to achieving our vision and being part of the societal change to end violence against women and girls.”

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