Following the false arrest, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, the Metropolitan Police has launched a new initiative with the hope of improving women’s trust in its service.
Having sustained criticism after serving police officer Wayne Couzens used his police identification to falsely arrest, rape and murder Sarah Everard, the Metropolitan Police have announced that plain clothes police officers will have to video call their uniformed supervisors who will verify their identity and provide reassurance.
‘We need to regain women’s trust’
Announcing this new initiative, a tweet from the Metropolitan Police Twitter account said: “Any lone, plain clothed police officer who engages with a woman on her own will now verify their identity through a new process.
“We know we need to regain women’s trust. We fully accept the onus is on us to verify we are who we say we are & that we are acting appropriately.”
Dame Cressida Dick announced the scheme, called Safe Connection, to the London Assembly yesterday. She told City Hall “the onus is on the officer to make lone women feel safe.”
She said: “Because my plain-clothes officers will call into a control room, they will then have a video call with a sergeant in uniform who will say ‘yes that’s so-and-so, he’s PC XYZ’ and so on”.
This new initiative follows a number of other simply ridiculous suggestions, including urging to call the police, run away, or “wave down a bus” if they feel unsafe. A police boss in North Yorkshire was also forced to resign after suggesting women “need to be streetwise”.
Couzens would have been verified
Crucially, one of the many flaws with the new Safe Connection initiative is the fact that Couzens would have, in fact, been verified had he been challenged on falsely arresting Everard, causing plenty of social media backlash.
In a tweet from Dawn Butler, the Labour MP wrote: “Police officers attended court to support Wayne Couzens. Think about that for just a minute.”
Comedian Rob Delaney simply shared the Metropolitan Police’s tweet alongside the word “astonishing”.
Actress Nathalie Emmanuel wrote: “Wayne Couzens was not pretending to be a police officer… he WAS one. This was not about people pretending to be officers. He was one of yours. Even with his previous predatory behaviour. You let him represent you @metpoliceuk. And now a woman has been raped and murdered…”
Beverley Knight added: “Wayne Couzens’ verifiable status as a police officer would not and did not prevent him from kidnapping, raping and murdering Sarah Everard. Why is the @metpoliceuk failing to see this? He didn’t pretend to be a copper. He WAS one.”
Another Twitter user wrote: “This would not have stopped Wayne Couzens and it won’t stop future officers from being perpetrators of violence either. Technical fixes like this don’t fix the underlying problem. But it’s clear the Met aren’t interested in addressing the underlying problem.”
Another said: “Completely missing the point that Wayne Couzens was not *imitating* an officer but ACTUALLY WAS ONE”.
Another wrote: “It’s a start but doesn’t quite work as Wayne Couzens was a police officer and would have been identified as such. Perhaps asking whether or not the plain clothes officer has a history of making women feel uncomfortable or has a nickname with fellow officers might be better idea.”
One Twitter user wrote: “The way they’ve spun this into being scared of people ‘pretending’ to be police/use police powers when Wayne Couzens was not pretending is really something.”
Another user tweeted: “Genuinely nightmarish how quickly and successfully the police and media rewrote the narrative around Wayne Couzens into one where he was simply pretending to be a police officer.”
“*Wayne Couzens calls a colleague* “Can you confirm I’m a police officer?” “Yes” *Continues as he was*”.