A TOWN councillor has asked Cheshire Police and Crime Panel what programmes exist to tackle misogyny and sexism in the force and whether the commissioner has been offered the training.

Cllr Bob Cernik was one of three Northwich councillors airing their concerns at today’s (Friday) meeting about a comment made in November by Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner John Dwyer regarding schoolgirls wearing short skirts.

The remark, which Mr Dwyer has since apologised for, came during a discussion about abuse and violence faced by women and young girls.

A complaint made to Cheshire Police and Crime Panel  about the comment was upheld.

Today the town councillors pressed for assurances appropriate training was in place for everyone within Cheshire Police.

Cllr Catriona Stewart told the panel: “The role of community leaders has never been more important… every one of us has a moral duty to challenge the harmful messages that our young children are accessing.”

The Northwich headteacher acknowledged children were probably unaware of Mr Dwyer’s comments but said: “Their parents and their grandparents may well be, and their attitudes are the most significant former of their children's attitudes and developing characters.”

Cllr Kate Cernik, who is a magistrate, said she had witnessed some ‘amazing work’ from Cheshire police officers supporting victims of violence.

But she added: “However, we must all know that we need to collectively address the issue of misogyny in our police force.”

Cllr Bob Cernik later asked: “What training programmes exist at the moment to tackle misogyny and sexism within this particular force?

“Who’s had the training? Has Mr  Dwyer been offered this training?”

Northwich Guardian: Evan MorrisEvan Morris (Image: Cheshire West & Cheshire Council)

Panel chair Evan Morris told them: “Cheshire Police uphold the highest standards and we're [panel] here to ensure that they do and we're very confident that they do.”

He said, in response to concerns raised about Mr Dwyer’s previous comments, the panel had asked the commissioner to outline the work he had undertaken with police in relation to the safety of women and girls.

Mr Dwyer’s office later gave a 25 minute presentation to today's meeting on the initiatives undertaken after securing  £15m of government funding over the past three years.

These include, but are not limited, to:

  • The introduction of GoodSam, a live streaming and location tracking software during emergency calls to help safeguard women in danger;
  • Safer Streets initiatives, including training for taxi drivers to recognise when people may be vulnerable or in danger and how to keep them safe,  and the introduction of the police safety bus;
  • Programmes  involving schoolchildren, university students and staff;
  • Intervention programmes working with perpetrators of domestic violence to change their behaviour.

Northwich Guardian: John DwyerJohn Dwyer (Image: Cheshire PCC)

Mr Dwyer told the meeting: “I think it's important to note that that £15 million is extra to the police budget, and it's given to us by the Home Office, in the main with strings attached.

“They're not giving us free money, they've given it to us because we want to run these programmes which I've driven, but Sarah [PCC staff member] has developed for me, to make things better for society across Cheshire.”