The Metropolitan Police has issued advice for women who fear a male police officer might not be genuine, suggesting they call 999 or “shout out to a passer-by, run into a house or wave a bus down” for help.
The extraordinary guidance was published as the force comes under mounting pressure to explain how it will prevent violence against women and regain their trust after serving officer Wayne Couzens brutal murder and rape of Sarah Everard.
In a message on its website headed “Our response to issues raised by the crimes of Wayne Couzens”, the Met said it is “unusual for a single plain clothes police officer” to engage with any member of the public.
It adds that if you don’t see other officers arrive later then you can expect to ask the lone officer questions such as “where are your colleagues?” and “why are you here?”.
However if you think you are in imminent danger then you should seek assistance 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.”
It was not immediately clear how the Met’s advice would have helped Ms Everard, who was on her own and at night when approached by Couzens.
The advice came hours after Met commissioner Cressida Dick apologised for failures of oversight in the Everard case, and faced demands for her resignation.
Alongside the advice the Met has also pledged to 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.
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.
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.”
Couzens was on Thursday jailed for life after the rape and murder of Ms Everard.
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