LONDON — Challenging officers by asking them “searching questions.” Flagging down a bus or running into a house. Asking for help from bystanders.
Faced with nationwide consternation over a police officer’s rape and murder of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, the London police have offered several safety tips to women in the event they come face to face with an officer they consider a threat, or someone posing as one.
The tips — issued after Wayne Couzens, the officer who abducted and murdered Everard earlier this year, was sentenced Thursday to life imprisonment for her killing — have been met with outrage and derision in Britain.
Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times
Couzens’ sentencing hearing included shocking details about how he — under the guise of an arrest, although he was not on duty — handcuffed and abducted Everard before raping and murdering her and setting her body afire. And many women asked how realistic it was that the police safety tips would save them if they faced a similar threat.
“This advice in particular shows a fundamental lack of insight into the issue of women’s safety with the police,” the Women’s Equality Party wrote in a post on Twitter, saying that the force had failed to recognize “the huge power imbalance between a police officer and someone they are arresting.”
The advice was accompanied by a list of other measures the force had taken or planned to take in light of Everard’s murder, including stepped-up patrols and plans for a new strategy to address violence against women and girls.
But critics say the guidance and the other planned measures have done little to calm the fears or reverse the erosion of public trust created by a London police officer like Couzens abusing his position to carry out the attack on Everard. Her murder provoked nationwide outrage and led to calls to improve safety for women.
The police fired Couzens after he pleaded guilty.
Many women said the guidance issued by the police Thursday raised questions about what they see as a lack of meaningful action taken by the force and the government in dealing with broader issues of violence and misconduct in police ranks.
And they argue the approach once again puts the onus on women to protect themselves while neglecting to address institutional failings. Others pointed out that for people of color, who may already face mistreatment by the police, the guidance rang particularly hollow.
“Imagine what would happen if a Black or ethnic minority woman/man ‘challenged’ an officer’s identity and intentions when stopped,” wrote Zubaida Haque, the former deputy director of the Runnymede Trust, a think tank focusing on racial equality.
Jolyon Maugham, executive director of the Good Law Project, a governance watchdog, said people had lost trust in the police and the criminal justice system.
“You don’t restore trust with victim-blaming, and you don’t restore trust with preposterous suggestions that people run away if they’re not sure if it’s a bona fide police officer, or wave down a passing bus driver,” he said. “What the hell is a bus driver going to do?”
The only way to restore trust, Maugham said, was to recognize systemic police problems through a public inquiry and the government’s handling of broader failings within the system — and its response to such violence.
He said a “very clear institutional line” needs to be drawn that leaves zero tolerance for sexism, misogyny and sexual violence.
Some 750 Metropolitan Police officers and staff faced sexual misconduct allegations between 2010 and May 2021, and just 83 were fired, according to data obtained by iNews through a Freedom of Information request.
“How do you look at the numbers that we know about of police officers accused of sexual misconduct, and the much smaller number of dismissals, and conclude that the police force institutionally regards this with the seriousness that it should?” Maugham said.
The Metropolitan Police acknowledged that Couzens’ abuse of power had shaken the force and that it was among a number of high-profile cases that “bring into sharp focus our urgent duty to do more to protect women and girls.”
It also for the first time acknowledged possible missteps in vetting Couzens before he joined the force and said officials were investigating an allegation of indecent exposure by the officer days before Everard was abducted.
A review into Couzens’ vetting process began after his arrest for the killing of Everard, the Metropolitan Police said. While he had passed, the review also found that one of the checks into his background “may not have been undertaken correctly” and failed to turn up an allegation of indecent exposure in Kent in 2015.
Some opposition lawmakers have called for the resignation of the head of London’s police force, Cressida Dick, while others have pushed for a broader investigation into potential systemic failures.
Senior government officials responsible for policing have stood behind the police commissioner.
Kit Malthouse, the government’s crime and policing minister, acknowledged that the case “struck a devastating blow to the confidence” in the police and had raised questions about how to prevent such attacks from happening in the future. But he said he believed Dick should continue in her position.
“The question in our mind is, what went wrong?” he said during an interview with Sky News on Friday. He said an inquiry would be needed to assess “how this monster slipped through the net to become a police officer” and what could be learned from that to make the police force a “better organization that has the unquestioning trust of the British people.”
Yvette Cooper, a Labour lawmaker and the chair of a parliamentary committee that scrutinizes the Home Office, which oversees policing, said the response from the Metropolitan Police and the government to the murder of Everard was “totally inadequate.”
“We need answers,” she said in a statement posted on Twitter. “How was this dangerous man a police officer for so long? What needs to change in policing?”
© 2021 The New York Times Company
Former and current employees at Blue Origin, the rocket company started by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and one of the richest people in the world, say the company is rife with sexism, intolerant of employees who dare to contradict their bosses and lax on safety. The claims, including charges of sexual harassment by company executives, were put forward in an essay written by 21 employees and former employees and published Thursday on the website Lioness. Only one former employee identified
"Army of the Dead" star Dave Bautista shared an image of himself sporting a broken nose, which happened while filming a scene for the 2015 James Bond flick "Spectre" with star Daniel Craig.
Health officials are urging Americans to get their flu shot as well as the COVID-19 vaccine if they are eligible in an effort to prevent hospitals from being even more overwhelmed than they already are by COVID. Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician, says “it’s definitely possible” that we may see a double whammy of the flu season and COVID-19. Wen explains why it’s important to get the flu shot now and how it comes into play with the COVID-19 vaccine.
At the end of a week that began with fears of severe staffing shortages at New York hospitals due to the state’s Monday deadline for health care workers to get vaccinated, data shows a dramatic increase in vaccination.
Maryland's largest school system said Thursday it will allow religious exemptions for its coronavirus vaccine mandate for teachers and other school staff. The announcement came two days after an employee from Montgomery County Public Schools filed a lawsuit alleging the school system had infringed on his First Amendment rights by not allowing a religious exemption to opt out of receiving a coronavirus vaccine.Subscribe to The Post Most newsletter for the most important and interesting stories fr
Eugene Bozzi said "Steve Irwin came out a little bit" in him while trapping the alligator to protect his daughters.
Osmond also talks about what it was like to have thousands of teenage girls screaming his name.
California's plan will have all elementary through high school students get the shots once the vaccine gains final approval from the U.S. government for different age groups.
In June of this year, with only the clothes on her back, a gallon of water and a little bit of food, 49-year-old Maria Torres, a Mexican immigrant from the state of Chihuahua, left her children behind with her sister and crossed the U.S.’s southern border in Sasabe, Ariz., to begin her trek north through the Sonoran Desert in hopes of reaching her family in Phoenix.
Sorry "Jeopardy James!" Reigning champ Matt Amodio surpassed the high-wagering James Holzhauer's consecutive wins Friday, clinching his 33rd victory.
The footage revealed more details about a domestic incident between Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito.
The NYPD and ASPCA rescued more than 20 dogs, including puppies, that they say were neglected and used for fighting.
Posts included conspiracy theories, as well as support for the 'person of interest' in Gabby Petito's homicide case.
“Take note, if you are selling items on social media, make sure your drugs are not in the background.”
Fans need to feel safe when they attend a football game. | Opinion from Toriano Porter
GettyA 59-year-old former French police officer has unmasked himself as a notorious serial killer in a suicide note written just before he overdosed on pills Wednesday, according to local media reports.Le Parisien reports that the man, identified only as Francois V., had been called for questioning in connection with the case of the killer dubbed “Grele” for his pockmarked face. His body was said to have been discovered Wednesday at a seaside resort near Montpellier.He had reportedly been due to
Irmgard Furchner, who used to work in a Poland concentration camp and faces 11,000 counts of accessory to murder, had failed to turn up to court.
Charles Vallow was shot twice in Arizona, the second time while he was on the ground, authorities determined.
This state has both the highest mortality rate of police violence and the highest rate of underreporting the killings, a new study found.
An Illinois family mourning the death of their 18-year-old son is outraged that no murder charges will be filed in […] The post Illinois family outraged at no murder charge in teen’s death due to ‘mutual combat’ appeared first on TheGrio.