<p>A Metropolitan police officer</p>

A Metropolitan police officer

Charity issues guidance on what women should do if stopped by a lone police officer

The Metropolitan Police says it is unusual for a single officer to approach a member of the public

Saman Javed
Friday 01 October 2021 09:19
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A UK charity has published guidance for women who are arrested by a lone male police officer after it emerged that Wayne Couzens used his Metropolitan Police-issued warrant card to kidnap Sarah Everard.

Police officer Couzens has been sentenced to a whole-life term for the kidnap, rape and murder of Everard – a 33-year-old marketing executive who disappeared in March on the way home from a friend’s house.

This week, the Old Bailey in London heard that Couzens had used his warrant card and handcuffs to deceive Sarah into getting into his car.

Handing down the sentence, Lord Justice Fulford said he had “not the slightest doubt that the defendant used his position as a police officer to coerce [Sarah] on a wholly false pretext into the car”.

Making Herstory, a charity working to end the abuse and trafficking of women shared advice on Twitter for women who are approached by a lone male police officer.

It said it has been inundated with questions from women following Couzens’ sentencing hearing.

The group advises women to “resist arrest calmly and refuse handcuffs” if approached by an officer.

They should then ask for a female officer or ask for two other male officers to be called for.

“Should this request be denied, call 999 to submit the request yourself. Do not enter any vehicle until additional officers arrive,” it adds.

In the scenario that no additional officers are available, women should request the arresting officer to walk with them in public to the nearest police station.

“Call family to let them know what is happening and where you are,” it said.

Making Herstory also issued advice for women driving alone, who might be signalled down by a police officer.

“If signalled to whilst driving by a lone officer, drive on to the nearest police station or a busy public area,” the charity said.

The charity has called on the police force to implement a policy that would prohibit a lone male police officer from arresting a woman.

“From here on out, no male police officer should be permitted to arrest a woman without a second officer on site.

“That’s the change that needs to be made permanently. And needs to be made NOW,” it wrote in a tweet.

Metropolitan Police told The Independent that it is “unusual” for a single plainclothes police officer to engage with a member of the public.

Under circumstances where it does happen, the member of the public should expect to see other officers arriving shortly afterwards.

However, if a member of the public does find themselves in an interaction with a lone police officer, the Met advises asking several questions “to seek further reassurance of that officer’s identity and intentions”.

The questions they suggest are as follows:

  • Where are your colleagues?
  • Where have you come from?
  • Why are you here?
  • Exactly why are you stopping or talking to me?

Additionally, the force says that if the officer has a radio, you could ask to speak to the operator.

If you do not believe the officer is legitimate, the Met advises to either shout out to a passer-by, run and knock on the door of the nearest house, wave down a passing bus, or if you are in the position to do so, call 999.

A spokesperson for the police force 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.”

“All officers will, of course, know about this case and will be expecting in an interaction like that - rare as it may be - that members of the public may be understandably concerned and more distrusting than they previously would have been, and should and will expect to be asked more questions.”

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