NDAs being used to silence victims of sexism and misogyny conference session reveals
A panelled discussion around misogyny at this year’s Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) conference revealed that more than 234 Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) have been handed out across the country to silence victims.
Taking place during Day 1 of the annual event, the session featured PFEW women in policing co-leads Sue Honeywill and Belinda Goodwin, chief fire officer for Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service Kathryn Billing and ITV1 Wales News presenter Justina Simpson.
The discussion shined a light on misogyny within the police service, focussing on acknowledging and accepting where policing has got things wrong, as well as changing the culture within the organisation.
Kicking off the conversation, Sue said: “We cannot get away from the fact that there have been far too many instances of misogyny and sexism involving some members of the police service, fire service and armed forces in recent years.
“Sadly, this has included? a few police officers committing?acts of violence and abuse against women, including behaviour towards colleagues.
“This has a devastating impact on every decent hardworking police officer out there doing a difficult job in incredibly challenging times. I have spoken to several male colleagues who tell me it’s tough being a male police officer at the moment. It remains our intention to take everyone on this journey, as we continue to address misogyny in policing, but by no means is it lost on me how divisive and emotive this subject remains.”?
Sue said that the ‘trust and confidence in the police has never been so low’, before explaining: “We are seeing a real drive to make significant cultural changes, and this is welcomed.
“There has been an acknowledgement and acceptance that there is an issue. This is a big step forward for policing. Misogyny is no longer a forbidden word within the service.
“We all need to work together to address the societal issue of misogyny and more specifically those faced within the public services.”
The session highlighted the use of NDAs being used by forces to prevent victims from sharing their stories and experiences. According to the study, Durham Constabulary is the only force to disclose it no longer uses them.
“This is real, it was only really when we started looking because of the behaviours we had been seeing that we discovered how NDAs are being used,” said Belinda, who revealed that the impact of NDAs on victims is ‘severe’.
PFEW is now calling on chief constables to stop the use of NDAs, with Belinda adding: “Many of the officers become mentally ill as a result, to endure the process of an employment tribunal and then be told you can’t talk about it because of an NDA is humiliating, and it’s wrong.”
As the conversation continued, the panel discussed the support available for members, with Sue drawing attention to the Sexual Harassment Toolkit that has been distributed to all branches countrywide.
She said: “We want professional standards departments to directly refer victims to their local `federation for support from trained reps. We have equality reps that are specially trained to deal with these cases.”?
If you feel you have been affected by any of the issues discussed in this article then please contact your local Federation representative.