Malcolm Graham, deputy chief constable (DCC) of Police Scotland said if their That Guy campaign was launched immediately after the murder of Sarah Everard it would be “a little bit crass”.
The campaign, spearheaded by a video urging men to take responsibility for their actions, was developed in advance of Ms Everard’s death, however, it was launched in October 2021 – a month after Wayne Couzens was sentenced to a whole-life tariff.
Ms Everard, 33, was murdered by Metropolitan Police Officer Mr Couzens after he kidnapped and raped her on her way home from a friend’s home one night in March 2021.
Mr Graham said the “horrific” murder and the response from “some organisations within policing” impacted public confidence in the police across the UK.
Police Scotland’s “That Guy” campaign calls for younger men in particular to take responsibility for their actions to help affect a positive cultural entitlement change against women.
Nicola Sturgeon named the campaign “powerful and important” and asked “all men” to watch the video.
During a senior leadership event on the That Guy campaign The Scotsman was exclusively invited to on Wednesday, Mr Graham said: “This campaign was developed in advance of the Sarah Everard murder.
“We had to delay this going out post-Sarah Everard as we thought the timing of it was a little bit crass.”
The DCC said Police Scotland took a “distinctly different” approach after the murder of Sarah Everard in comparison to “some policing organisations” by putting the onus on men who harm instead of women protecting themselves.
Recent figures showed sexual assault crimes reported in Scotland had climbed by 20 per cent compared to last year (from 4,587 to 5495).
The DCC told The Scotsman: “Sexual assault continues to be a real issue in Scotland and the number of reports to the police rising is in part an indication of people’s confidence to come forward but we know it’s still massively under-reported, we know that a good proportion of those offences recorded are non-recent in nature.
"There’s much more work to do to prevent and reduce the instances in sexual violence particularly against women and that’s what the That Guy campaign is a part of doing.”
Mr Graham said there is “always room for improvement” in police training around sexual assault, however, added the first-contact with victims and the police is “incredibly high” on satisfaction ratings.
The DCC said the That Guy campaign was “hugely successful” as it became viral (watched by over 2.8 million people worldwide) and spread the message to “change the conversation around sexual assault that men need take action”. Mr Graham added: "We wanted to develop a campaign which was focused on everybody and specifically just at men in terms of taking responsibility for their behaviour and also the behaviour of other men. ”
The DCC said for a long time within Police Scotland it was expected that senior women should lead the way on raising such issues and tackling violence against women was seen “women’s work” in a “boy’s club culture” but said that is now changing.