Sarah Everard: Met Police feel 'betrayed' says Sir Stephen House
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Emma Kay, co-founder of WalkSafe, an app with safety features women can use when walking alone, said: I “don’t see how it would work on a practical level. The Met are saying it would be very small numbers, but it just feels like they still don’t get it.
“What you’re saying is half the country doesn’t trust you, so we’ll video link you to a police station to reassure you that the person is an actual officer, so you’ll do what they say.
“But can you trust the link?”
She added: “Given the level of mistrust and the seriousness of these crimes we need to look at whether lone officers should be arresting or approaching women at all until after a full inquiry and whether they should be working in pairs with a woman officer until then.
“There will be cries over resources, but I think that’s the only way to start gaining trust back by putting some real resource behind it and showing they take it seriously.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick announced earlier this week that the new system was a response to the murder of Sarah Everard in March, when serving police officer Wayne Couzens staged an arrest in order to kidnap Ms Everard in Clapham, south London.
Last month, Couzens was handed a whole life sentence in prison, for a crime which the judge called “devastating, tragic and wholly brutal”.
Dame Cressida said that the identity verification measure would be “instigated by the officer and not by the woman having to ask for this”.
She continued to say that the “onus is on the officer” to ensure that women feel safe in their encounters with police.
Ms Kay does not agree that these measures go far enough to safeguard women when walking or travelling alone.
She said: “We’ve been talking about an epidemic of violence towards women and to me it’s the whole system that needs changing.”
She argues authorities should be “looking at practical things such as the Victims Bill and the calls to elevate these crimes to a ‘strategic requirements’ so they get the resources and the backing it needs to really tackle the issues.
Ms Kay added: “I agree at a fundamental level we need to change attitudes and have a zero-tolerance to misogyny in all walks of life and that includes the Police.”
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Ms Kay reiterated that this measure will not succeed in offering women any reassurance, calling it a “sticking plaster” which “women will see right through.”
She relayed: “Women are scared.
“We were scared before Sarah Everard’s tragic murder, we watched the heavy-handed policing of her vigil when presumably the force knew about those details and then we heard the horrific details of how a Met officer used his position to kidnap and rape her.”
Ms Kay did think, however, that this was a watershed moment for changing attitudes towards women’s safety.
She explained: “I think it’s a wake-up call to everyone, including the police, that we need to challenge attitudes.
“Sarah’s case shows how quickly harassment can escalate and we need to take misogyny seriously on all fronts.”
This comes after the Metropolitan Police faced fierce criticism over remarks advising women to call 999 or “shout out to a passer-by, run into a house or wave a bus down” if they did not trust the credentials of a male police officer.”
Scotland Yard also suggested last month that women stopped by lone plainclothes officers should run away or question their legitimacy if in any doubt.
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