Met Police tell women to wave down a bus or shout out if they don’t trust an officer

Friday, 1st October 2021, 11:25 am
Ms Everard lived in Brixton and had recently started a new job as a marketing executive (Photo: Getty Images)

The Metropolitan Police has advised women to flag down a bus or shout out if they don’t trust an officer.

It comes as the force pledged to deploy 650 new officers and increase patrols to do more to protect women and girls after Sarah Everard’s kidnap, rape and murder.

The 650 new officers will be deployed into busy public places, “including those where women and girls often lack confidence that they are safe”, according to the force.

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The Met also said it would “step up” patrols and provide an increased police presence in areas identified as “hotspot” locations for violence and harassment.

As Wayne Couzens, who was a serving Met officer at the time, kidnapped Ms Everard by carrying out a false arrest with his warrant card, the force has also issued advice to anyone who is concerned a police officer is not acting legitimately during an interaction.

They recommend people ask where the officer’s colleagues are, where they have come from, why they are there, and exactly why they are stopping or talking to them.

Ms Everard, 33, was kidnapped, raped and murdered by Wayne Couzens who detained her using a false arrest as she walked home.

They also suggest verifying the police officer by asking to hear their radio operator or asking to speak to the radio operator themselves.

Finally, the Met Police is advising people to shout out to a passer-by, run into a house, knock on a door, wave a bus down, or call 999.

‘We want to do all we can to rebuild trust’

The spokesperson said: “We completely hear the legitimate concerns being raised and we know women are worried. All our officers are concerned about the impact of these horrific crimes on trust in the police and we want to do all we can to rebuild that trust.

“It is unusual for a single plain clothes police officer to engage with anyone in London.

“If that does happen, and it may do for various reasons, in instances where the officer is seeking to arrest you, you should then expect to see other officers arrive shortly afterwards.”

The force also promised to publish a new strategy for tackling violence against women and girls, outlining how it will prioritise action against sexual and violent predatory offenders.

The new strategy will accompany a Predatory Offender Units which, since last November, has resulted in the arrests of more than 2,000 suspects for domestic abuse, sex offences, and child abuse.

Increased police presence in ‘hotspot’ areas for harassment

The 650 new officers will be deployed into busy public places, “including those where women and girls often lack confidence that they are safe”, according to the force.

The Met also said it would “step up” patrols and provide an increased police presence in areas identified as “hotspot” locations for violence and harassment.

A Met Police spokesperson said: “The full horrific details of (Couzens’) crimes are deeply concerning and raise entirely legitimate questions.

“This is the most horrific of crimes, but we recognise this is part of a much bigger and troubling picture.

“There have been other horrific murders of women in public spaces, including the killings of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, and very recently of Sabina Nessa.

“All of these bring into sharp focus our urgent duty to do more to protect women and girls.”

The spokesperson added: “Understanding the concerns of women in London is really important to us and we are undertaking a range of activity so we can better listen and respond.”

Wayne Couzens was handed a whole life order for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard.

Forces will have to work ‘much harder’ to win back public trust

Policing minister Kit Malthouse said the case had struck a “devastating blow to the confidence that people have in police officers”, and he warned thousands of officers will need to do more so trust can be rebuilt.

Wayne Couzens was handed a whole life sentence on Thursday for the kidnap, rape and murder of the 33-year-old marketing executive.

Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick as faced calls to resign. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Speaking on Sky News on Friday, Mr Malthouse said: “They recognise that this has struck a devastating blow to the confidence that people have in police officers but also in the Met Police in particular.

“For those thousands and thousands of police officers out there who will have to work harder – much harder – to win public trust, it is a very, very difficult time.”

Mr Malthouse said there are important lessons to learn from what happened.

“My job is effectively to help the Home Secretary hold the police to account about what went wrong, how this monster slipped through the net to become a police officer, how we can make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

But he joined several other politicians and policing figures in rejecting mounting calls for Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick to resign, adding: “She is a dedicated and talented and committed police officer who is driving the Metropolitan Police to ever greater standards of care and improvement and fighting crime.”