THE police and crime commissioner for Cheshire has apologised over commenting about ‘schoolgirls all wearing very short skirts’.

PCC John Dwyer has offered a ‘full and unreserved apology’ after being reported to Cheshire’s Police and Crime Panel for ‘misogynistic remarks’ made in a council meeting.

The Conservative representative made the comments during of parish council meeting on November 28, in a discussion about the abuse faced by women and young girls.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss local issues including speed cameras and anti-social behaviour.

The discussion centred around a survey the PCC was conducting, inviting women and girls to take part in a survey about personal safety, crime and their experiences with the police.

PCC Dwyer was heard, the complaint alleged, saying: “I notice schoolgirls in my area are all wearing very short skirts and this did not happen in the 1960s.”

The complaint states: “Others in the room looked shocked at this comment. Within the context of the conversation, relating to violence and abuse of women and girls, this statement came across as victim-blaming and misogynistic.

“I fail to see any other possible interpretation of the statement he made within this context. One councillor even turned to him after he made this statement and said ‘you shouldn't have said that’.

“His statement, that stereotypes female children, clearly stands in stark opposition to Victim Focus’ objective to ‘tackle prejudice and stereotyping of adults and children subjected to crime, violence, abuse and trauma’.

“Given his senior position of influence over policing in Cheshire, making such a statement certainly does not fill me with confidence that ‘women and girls in Cheshire feel able to report their experiences to the police’.

“I feel that this comment was highly inappropriate, and therefore believe I must make this formal complaint.

“In making the comment, Mr Dwyer has failed to uphold the highest standards of public office and has broken the principles contained in the code of conduct by failing to treat young and potentially vulnerable members of our communities with fairness and respect.”

The complaint submitted has now been upheld by the panel, and the PCC issued an apology which has been accepted by the panel and closed the complaint.

In response to the complaint, PCC Dwyer said: “I want to begin by acknowledging the understandable hurt caused, and to make it unequivocally clear that what I said was wrong.

“I would like to offer both the complainant and the Police and Crime Panel a full and unreserved apology.

“I am truly sorry and accept that my comment was inappropriate and unhelpful.

“In no way does it give an accurate reflection of how seriously I take the matter of tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG). There can be no justification for the actions of perpetrators.

“My ambition to tackle this issue is clear in my Police and Crime Plan, and the panel will know that I have personally driven a number of projects and initiatives to tackle VAWG and the crimes that disproportionately affect women and girls.

“I hope that my actions will go some way to reassuring the complainant – and anyone who is understandably concerned by my comment – about my commitment to stamping out VAWG.”

Dan Price, Labour candidate for Cheshire police and crime commissioner called for PCC Dwyer to ‘consider his position’.

He said: “During some pretty basic questioning, our current commissioner could not prevent himself from victim-blaming school girls.

“Is this what the Conservative Party calls civic leadership? Cheshire communities deserve so much better than this.

“John ought to do the decent thing and consider his position. At the very least, he should follow my campaign pledge to ‘learn from victims’ instead of blaming them.”

Cllr Louise Gittins, leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, added: "John Dwyer's comments were disgraceful and his apology does not change the fact that he thought it appropriate to comment on the clothing of young girls and blame female victims of abuse and trauma.

"If John Dwyer was sincere about tackling violence against women and girls he would have already resigned. His outdated and offensive views make it impossible for him to continue."