Cumbria Constabulary have instated a dedicated operational Violence Against Women and Girls Detective Inspector. The creation of this specialist post is the Constabulary’s next proactive step towards eradicating violence against women and girls in the county. 

The creation of the role follows the results of the Constabulary’s Call it Out campaign 2021, which saw over 5000 members of the public take part in a public safety feedback survey, with additional feedback sought from victims and partner agencies.

Months of behind-the-scenes work conducted the Constabulary and supported by partners and members of the community, has resulted in the launch of this position. 

Detective Inspector Matthew Belshaw was assigned to the newly created role last week. DI Belshaw has served Cumbria Constabulary for 19 years and has served as a Detective for 17 years, holding specialist roles including DI for Child Exploitation in the Public Protection Unit and as a detective working with the home office investigating international human trafficking of women and girls.

The role will provide operational oversite for crime investigation, officer and staff development, proactive deterrence and preventative operations whilst also coordinating strong partnership working. 

Feeling unsafe is not exclusive to women, however sexual violence and harassment offences are overwhelmingly committed by males against females.  

DI Matthew Belshaw said, “Creating this dedicated post illustrates the Constabulary’s and my dedication to tackling these types of vindictive crimes. 

“Whilst Cumbria remains one of the safest places to live in the county, these targeted crimes do still happen here, often behind closed doors, but alarmingly in public spaces too.

Many men, and women, may not realise or understand how their accepted attitudes and behaviours towards women and girls actually constitute as violence. VAWG is not always the culmination of a criminal offence against women and girls, but male attitudes and behaviours, and the acceptance of these by others, all contribute to the issue.

We need to build a society together that challenges these attitudes, and provide support and champion those who are prepared to stand up and challenge any form of sexism or misogyny.

This work will also be reflected within the Constabulary, and I will be working closely with our professional standards department to ensure that we identify and stamp out any form of sexism or misogyny within our own service, and anyone found expressing these attitudes or behaviours will be dealt with appropriately and robustly.

“Targeting someone because of their characteristic is never acceptable.

“Everyone should be and feel safe, no matter where they are in the county.

“I will be supporting all departments across the constabulary to ensure they have the tools and knowledge they need to effectively identify and tackle this area of crime.

“I will also be working with partners across Cumbria, such as educational establishments and women’s support centres, to listen to the issues and to offer opportunities such as education, support, reporting and where appropriate looking at what additionally needs to be done to tackle crime.

“We already have a number of initiatives in place which target violent crimes against women and girls. These include Operation Vigilant, increasing officer foot patrols in the night-time economy and more police where women and girls have suggested they feel most at risk. The creation of the Carlisle welfare hub will support all this positive activity. Whilst all this is all positive and progressive, as a Constabulary we are committed to doing more.

“I know that this type of incident remains under-reported, so I am also using this opportunity to encourage victims and witnesses to report incidents to us. Please know that you will be listened to, you will be offered support and any crimes will be investigated sensitively by dedicated specialist officers.”

To report an incident contact, police on www.cumbria.police.uk/report-it. You can also call 101. In an emergency always dial 999. 

To report an incident anonymously, contact independent charity, CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.

To access free support services without police involvement contact Victim Support on 0300 303 0157 or visit www.cumbriatogether.com.


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