Women face an “epidemic” of flashes and other forms of indecent exposure, with police in England and Wales registering more than 10,000 cases last year, but taking fewer than 600 people to court for them, analysis reveals. from The Guardian.
The findings come after Wayne Couzens was indicted for repeated cases of alleged indecent exposure in the years and days before he raped and murdered Sarah Everard, but did not face any action. The police accepted that may have had enough clues early identify the police officer as a threat to women, amid fears that flashing is a gateway to other sex crimes.
One in 10 women has been subjected to indecent exposure, and more than 113,000 in the past year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Crime Survey for England and Wales.
Police recorded 10,775 cases of “exposure and voyeurism” in the year to March 2020, the ONS shows, while only 594 suspects were brought to court, resulting in 435 guilty verdicts, figures from the Ministry of Justice reveal. Justice for 2020.
The Victims Commissioner for England and Wales said police rarely took indecent exposure seriously. Vera Baird urged police forces to record and rigorously investigate reports of indecent exposure, as possible precursors to more serious sexual crimes.
“It really does seem to be an epidemic,” Baird said. “I hardly know a woman who hasn’t had a flash done. It is clearly endemic and it must be taken seriously, especially because I think that the attitude it reveals is quite risky ”.
Her comments came as Boris Johnson endorsed Cressida Dick, the metropolitan police commissioner, saying “we can trust the police” but admitting that “there is a problem” with the way violence against women was handled.
In 2015, a motorist reported that Couzens was driving naked from the waist down, while days before Everard’s disappearance, he had allegedly been exposed to an employee at a McDonald’s restaurant.
A report from the police inspection released last month said that 50% of women who responded to a public survey said they felt unsafe in public spaces, while the ONS found that two out of three women between the ages of 16 and 34 had experienced bullying in the previous 12 months, and 29% felt they were being followed.
Baird said: “Too often, the police don’t take indecent exposure seriously. Any report needs a rigorous recording to build an intelligence picture. [because] the possibilities of escalation cannot be avoided. “
Dr Fiona Vera-Gray, an assistant professor in Durham University’s department of sociology and an expert on sexual violence and harassment, said ONS statistics, which show that at least one in 10 women ages 16 to 74 years they said they had been victims of indecent exposure. since he turned 16, that would probably be an understatement.
“From an early age, women are taught to doubt ourselves and not take exposure seriously,” she said. “We need to think differently about what damage is, what it means. He is saying to women: ‘I could hurt you; there is nothing in me that prevents me from showing you my penis, it has a threat attached … Look what I can do to you, look how I can humiliate you, ‘the omnipresent threat of sexual violence’.
Data shows that 5.8% or about one in 17 of all adults say they have been the victims of indecent exposure since they turned 16.
Of the 594 exposure complaints that reached the courts, 123 resulted in immediate custody sentences, with an average length of custody of six and a half months. Community sentences were imposed for 189 crimes.
Jayne Butler, Executive Director of Rape Crisis, said: “Indecent exposure is a sexual offense and causes distress to those who experience it. Sexual assaults of this type are sometimes considered “low-level” sex crimes and this may discourage people from reporting them as they do not believe they are taken seriously.
“We see cases where a perpetrator escalates their behavior and continues to commit other sexual crimes, but in any case we would expect the police to take seriously and investigate any sexual crimes reported to them.”
He added: “Crimes such as indecent exposure often indicate an individual’s need for care and a sense of sexual entitlement; The scale of indecent exposure crimes in the statistics reflects a culture that tolerates toxic masculinity that must be challenged. These crimes cause victims anguish and can be indicators that a perpetrator has attitudes that could lead to more crimes if not taken seriously. “