Bury

Bury officer delivers self-defence class

A sergeant in Bury is among one of the officers working to tackle violence against women but by using her skills as karate instructor by hosting self-defence classes.

Sergeant Joanne Irish has been patrolling areas such as parks and the Metrolink during rush hour, providing reassurance and handing out leaflets, anti-spiking products and personal attack alarms but as part of International Women’s Day today (8 March 2022), she decided to put her personal skills in karate to use and delivered a self-defence class to over 30 people from different community groups.

Joanne, who joined the force 14 years ago and has been on the beat in Bury ever since has spent time and continues to listen to concerns from women about where they don’t feel safe.

The 40-year-old said: “I’m a Karate instructor in my spare time and have spent the past six weeks working on issues around violence against women so I thought it’d be a good idea to marry up the two and host self-defence and personal safety class.

The 40-year-old said: “I’m a Karate instructor in my spare time and have spent the past six weeks working on issues around violence against women so I thought it’d be a good idea to marry up the two and host self-defence and personal safety class.

“In Bury, we’ve been working with local groups around violence against women so we invited them along and everyone really enjoyed it.

“It’s about mindset and changing how people’s minds work, it’s not just about panicking and backing yourself into corners – it can be about keeping calm and doing one simple move.

“It’s not just about singling out women, some men can be vulnerable and we found when we were handing out anti-spiking items on the Metrolink that men even required them too.”

Violence against women and girls is a top priority for GMP and alongside the work of Joanne and other officers’, the force remains committed to making the region a safer place for women and girls.

Chief Superintendent Nicky Porter, force lead for violence against women and girls, said: “As part of our strategy and aims to make the region a safer place for women and girls, we’re targeting perpetrators. It’s not the responsibility of women to prevent themselves from becoming victims, it’s down to us as law enforcers and our partners to target offenders and bring those responsible to justice.

“One way we’re doing this is through Operation Lioness – a brand new operation we launched last year that focuses on the nighttime economy and cracking down on predatory behaviour. We want to make sure that women and girls feel safe in public spaces, private spaces and online and we will achieve this by targeting perpetrators and listening to women and girls’ lived experiences to build trust and confidence.

“We also support the GMCA’s 10-year gender-based violence strategy which aims to tackle gender-based violence by encompassing how health services, education establishments, the criminal justice system and housing providers can work in partnership to improve people’s lives. It’s our shared societal responsibility to ensure gender equality.

“We will continue to work with our partners across the region and take strong action against anyone who poses a threat to women and girls – everyone, regardless of gender, should feel safe and we as police officers are here to ensure that.”

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