“When Philip Allot, North Yorkshire Police Crime Commissioner, stepped down following his comments about the murder of Sarah Everard it signalled, at the very least, that by working together change can come.
The pressure for Philip to go came quite publicly through the outraged voices of survivors and the organisations representing them, through the concerted efforts of reporters who would not let the case drop and through the condemnation of the whole of the local Police, Fire and Crime panel who agreed unanimously that they had no confidence in him. Pressure also came from his own team many of whom outlined their concerns about his views and his behaviour in a letter signed by over 30 members of staff.
Women and men, left wing and right, came together with one voice to condemn Philip’s words.
Despite Philip’s insistence that he could learn, that he would take up the offer of training and meetings with victim groups, generously made by organisations like my own, it was clear in all his apologies and public performance that he simply did not understand the anger, frustration and outrage his comments had caused. He did not get it and it seemed he never would.
In a political landscape where it seems that no-one resigns, following a damning meeting with the Police, Fire and Crime panel at last Philip understood that he could not rebuild trust, that he would never be able to undo the harm his words had caused and that the only thing to do, the right thing to do, was to step down.
Philip’s resignation showed that ordinary people, working together can bring change. His words had made people stop in their tracks. They brought into sharp focus the harm that holding outdated, victim blaming attitudes can have. Suddenly, the public were alive to the risks that these attitudes pose, from commissioning decisions to policing priorities.
They shone a light on the misogyny that underpins the abuse of women and girls in our homes and on the streets. They enabled us all to see something that specialist charities and activists have known for some time. They showed us how victims are blamed and how harmful attitudes permeate our private lives and public services. Everyone who supports survivors know that these are the attitudes that enable the abusive, violent behaviours of some men.
Over the coming months and years, we must continue to shine that light, we must train institutions and we must all step up and challenge individuals and organisations if we truly want a safer, more equitable future for our daughters and yes, for our sons too.”
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