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Committments to be included in police frameworks

Policy frameworks should outline specific commitments on the role, objectives and activities of security sector institutions and personnel, which require them to:  

  • Review existing police practices and related legislation in order to strengthen the response to incidents of violence, and harmonize across jurisdictions, as relevant.

  • Establish coordination mechanisms between different government institutions in order to ensure a comprehensive response to different forms of violence.

  • Facilitate mechanisms to ensure the participation of civil society, including women’s organizations, in the development, implementation and oversight of security policies and institutions.

  • Promote a culture within the police and armed forces that does not tolerate gender-based discrimination or violence, including against civilians and female personnel.

  • Adopt and implement an internal disciplinary policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, with clear sanctions for offenders.

  • Establish codes of conduct, including specific measures to address discrimination, sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women and girls.

  • Develop and adopt operational protocols and procedures on how to respond to violence against women and girls, which may mandate police personnel to:

    • respond promptly to every request for assistance and protection;

    • assign the same level of priority to calls related to gender-based violence as given to cases involving other types of violence, and giving equal priority to cases of domestic violence compared to cases related to any other form of violence against women;

    • conduct a coordinated risk assessment of a crime scene (upon receiving a complaint), and respond accordingly in a language understood by the complainant/survivor;

    • cooperate and coordinate with other services and sectors as part of an integrated system, especially victim support services, using agreed protocols and procedures for communication, information-sharing and referral;

    • apply a pro-arrest and pro-prosecution policy in cases where there is probable cause to believe that a crime has occurred and

    • require police or authorities to inform victims’ of the perpetrator’s impending release or conditions related to it (UN Women. 2011. “Handbook for National Action Plans on Violence against Women” Section 3.5.4.1; Model Strategies, 8c, 2008).

  • Develop specific policing and military strategies and tactics to reduce the risk of violence and increase protection for women and girls.

  • Develop and implement specialized training for police and military officers and staff on the prevention of and response to violence against women and girls, including engagement with both victims and suspects (for example, related to detection and investigation techniques to ensure victim safety and confidentiality; mechanisms of referral for medical and other support; how the military should protect vulnerable populations such as refugees and displaced persons)

  • Create specific positions within the police service at management and operational level with responsibility for preventing and responding to violence against women. This can include training individual officers such as specialist investigators, survivor support staff and advocates to accompany them throughout the reporting process.

  • Appoint specialist advisers on the issue to support the police in their work.

  • Establish a single point of contact in each police station for violence cases.

  • Create or strengthen well-funded specialized units, centres and services for women and girls to report crimes, seek advice and shelter (e.g. specialist domestic violence courts, one-stop centres, women’s police stations, sexual assault referral centres, safe houses), with specialized training for responsible personnel.

  • Participate in strategies to address particular forms of violence.

  • Mobilize and partner with communities, non-governmental organizations and civil society to take coordinated action toward preventing violence against women and girls and supporting survivors and their families.

  • Establish specific human resource policies and measures to ensure the recruitment, retention and advancement of women in the police and armed forces (Albrecht and Barnes, 2008; Takeshita 2008; UN Women. 2011).