Police Criticised for Telling Women to Run if Feeling Threatened by Cop, Plurality Want Met Chief to Resign

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 13: A woman is arrested during a vigil for Sarah Everard on Clapha
Hollie Adams/Getty Images

London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has been criticised for issuing guidance to women advising them that if they feel in danger during an interaction with a lone, plainclothes police officer that they should run or flag down a bus. The advice was issued after it was revealed Met officer Wayne Couzens had pretended to be enforcing lockdown laws when he kidnapped Sarah Everard, before raping and murdering her.

During the sentencing hearing on Wednesday, the Old Bailey heard that Couzens, not in uniform and driving a rented car, had shown Miss Everard his police ID before handcuffing her and placing her in the vehicle during a fake arrest on the night of March 3rd while pretending to enforce coronavirus laws.

Scotland Yard on Friday told women if they are in doubt as to the actions of officers not in uniform stopping them, they should ask “searching questions”, and if they feel threatened, they should “seek assistance — shouting out to a passer-by, running into a house, knocking on a door, waving a bus down or if you are in the position to do so calling 999”.

The advice was met with widespread backlash, including from women’s rights activist Patsy Stevenson, who said in remarks reported by the i newspaper that they implied Miss Everard could have avoided her own kidnapping and murder.

Miss Stevenson, who was arrested at a vigil for Miss Everard in March that Scotland Yard had cancelled on grounds it was illegal under lockdown restrictions, said: “Telling us that we should scream and draw attention to ourselves, or call 999 to check, or wave down a bus, is like saying she could have stopped it.

“She couldn’t have. This was not down to her. We should be able to trust that a police officer is not going to murder us.”

Labour MP Jess Phillips called the advice “tone deaf”, admitting that had she been in the same situation as Miss Everard and was shown a police warrant card, she likely would have got into Couzens’ car.

One senior figure was forced to apologise for telling women to be “streetwise” and saying Miss Everard should never have “submitted” to the arrest.

Police Commissioner Philip Allott, who oversees North Yorkshire Police, had told BBC Radio York: “So women, first of all, need to be streetwise about when they can be arrested and when they can’t be arrested. She [Sarah Everard] should never have been arrested and submitted to that.”

“Perhaps women need to consider in terms of the legal process, to just learn a bit about that legal process,” Mr Allott added.

There have been increasing calls from the left and right of the political spectrum for Cressida Dick, the Met’s police commissioner, to resign over the shocking murder of the 33-year-old by a serving member of Ms Dick’s force.

While Prime Minister Boris Johnson implied that he continued to support the police commissioner, a plurality of Britons, 38 per cent, think that Cressida Dick should resign (27 per cent said she should remain in the role, 35 per cent responded ‘don’t know’).

The poll also revealed that more men (44 per cent) than women (32 per cent) think that Dick, Scotland Yard’s first female commissioner, should be held accountable for the tragedy that occurred on her watch and resign.


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