by Isabel Ringrose
Since Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens was sentenced for the murder of Sarah Everard, cops have given women disgraceful “advice” on how to stay safe.
It comes as another Met officer in the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command—the same as Couzens—was charged with rape.
PC David Carrick was off-duty at the time of the alleged offence on 4 September last year in St. Albans, police said.
After this revelation, Met police chief Cressida Dick must go now.
The powers that were granted to Couzens allowed him to use his police badge to arrest Everard and then to kidnap, rape and murder her.
The Met says that to avoid this happening, women should ask cops for their warrant cards if they’re worried about their identities.
For Everard this advice would’ve made no difference seeing as Couzens had already shown his. Alternatively, if a woman still has doubts, she is advised to ring the police control room to confirm the officer’s identity according to the Met.
But being off-duty won’t be enough to raise concerns as police can mark themselves as on-duty to make arrests. Another piece of advice is that women should consider “shouting out to a passerby, running into a house, knocking on a door or waving a bus down”.
Firstly, this assumes all women are approached on busy roads with plenty of witnesses.
And if the police are here to protect, why should women have to run away at all?
The reality is that the police and the system they defend are rotten with institutional sexism and so will always pose a threat to women.
When Everard was arrested, witnesses didn’t intervene as they assumed she had done something wrong.
Often, because of the power police have over ordinary people, many don’t want to intervene in their business on the streets out of fear.
Those that do challenge an arrest are at best shooed away or at worst arrested and attacked themselves. North Yorkshire police chief Philip Allott’s advice to women was to “be streetwise about when they can be arrested and when they can’t be arrested”.
“Knowing your rights” doesn’t stop police from assaulting their victims. And telling women to take responsibility lets officers off the hook.
So the Met’s response to not deploying plain-clothed officers alone is not enough.
Neither is an independent inquiry or announcing that the vetting process for officers isn’t fit for purpose.
It’s the police who aren’t fit for purpose.
The only way to keep women safe from cops on the streets is to defund the police—a slogan that gained popularity during the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Defunding the police doesn’t just mean taking away money from the police and redistributing it to institutions that actually help women.
The slogan has to go further to mean abolishing the police altogether.