Women Voice Outrage At Met Police Over Advice To ‘Wave A Bus Down’ If They Distrust A Male Officer

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Photo credit: Dan Kitwood - Getty Images
Photo credit: Dan Kitwood - Getty Images

People have taken to social media to voice their disbelief at the Metropolitan Police’s latest advice for women who may question whether a male police officer is 'genuine'.

On Thursday the Metropolitan Police published guidance after it has been asked for answers as to how it will prevent violence against women and girls and bolster trust in society after Wayne Couzens was sentenced to a whole-life prison term for the murder and rape of Sarah Everard.

The former police officer, who had been serving at the time of Everard’s murder, had finished his shift the morning of the 33-year-old's disappearance on March 3 and went on to rape and strangle the marketing executive, before burning her body.

An Old Bailey sentencing hearing on Wednesday heard how Couzens had used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant card and handcuffs to abduct Everard as she walked home through Clapham, London after visiting a friend.

Photo credit: Dan Kitwood - Getty Images
Photo credit: Dan Kitwood - Getty Images

‘The full horrific details of his crimes are deeply concerning and raise entirely legitimate questions,’ a statement from the Metropolitan Police begins.

In addition to publishing a list of measures the Met has introduced to tackle violence against women and girls, including deploying 650 new officers into busy places, it issued advice to women if they have concerns if an officer is a ‘threat’ or are unsure how to prove an officer is ‘genuine’.

According to the Met, ‘it is unusual for a single plain clothes police officer to engage with anyone in London’.

It you fail to see additional officers arrive to the scene then you should ask the solo officer questions such as ‘where are your colleagues?’ and ‘where have you come from?’

Photo credit: JUSTIN TALLIS - Getty Images
Photo credit: JUSTIN TALLIS - Getty Images

‘It is entirely reasonable for you to seek further reassurance of that officer’s identity and intentions,’ it notes, before advising women who believe they are in ‘imminent danger’ to find help by ‘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’.

Unsurprisingly, the guidance has angered many women and men who question the Metropolitan Police’s advice and what power a bus driver has in such a situation.

Writer Terri White took to Instagram following the publishing of the guidance and wrote: 'Today’s briefings by the Met include telling us to flag down a bus, ask to see a warrant card (even though Couzens had one) and RUN AWAY from the police if we’re scared. So we’re to resist? Will we then get arrested? Tackled? Or tased? How will this disproportionately affect women of colour? [sic]'

Comedian Katherine Ryan replied to a news article about the advice: 'WTF?'

Following Couzens’ sentencing, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said she knows that a ‘precious bond of trust’ had been severed by Couzens and that he had ‘brought shame on the Met’.

Dick added that Couzens’ actions were ‘a gross betrayal of everything policing stands for’, before saying: ‘I am so sorry.’

Following the sentencing the Metropolitan Police announced it would no longer deploy officers dressed not in uniform on their own.

An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) review of how Couzens became a Met officer has found that a vetting procedure had missed that his previous cars had been linked to allegations of indecent exposure. The review is ongoing.

On Wednesday, Sarah Everard’s mother Susan Everard delivered a victim impact statement before Couzens’ sentencing.

‘I am tormented at the thought of what she endured,’ she told the room.

‘In the morning I wake up to the awful reality that Sarah is gone. In the evenings, at the time she was abducted, I let out a silent scream: "Don’t get in the car, Sarah. Don’t believe him. Run!"' she added.

You can read Susan and her daughter Katie Everard’s statements here.

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