Something stinks about the culture of contemporary British policing

Editorial: For far too long rape, sexual assault and sexually inappropriate behaviour has been treated as either serious but too difficult to prove (and thus expend resources on), or too trivial to bother about (and thus spend time and effort detecting)

Friday 01 October 2021 22:40
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<p>Ex-Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens was handed a whole-life sentence for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard </p>

Ex-Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens was handed a whole-life sentence for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard

As if to prove their structural and cultural failures, the advice from the Metropolitan Police to women concerned about their safety in the presence of a lone male police officer after the murder of Sarah Everard is to shout, bang on a door or wave down a bus.

It is a ludicrous thing to suggest, impractical and ineffective, and insulting with it. Late at night it is likely that there will be no response from a householder, no bus handily passing by the potential killer, and no one to hear you, the victim, scream. Even if there were, the usual response, guided by police advice, is not to get involved, call 999 and wait for the police to arrive – by which time an abduction would be over.

Of course, incidents involving police officers even remotely like what befell Ms Everard are vanishingly rare; but less serious incidents of violence and assault are much more commonplace. Whether the threat comes from uniformed police, plain clothes officers, people impersonating police officers or anyone else, the onus should not be placed on women to ensure their own safety in this way.

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