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A police surveillance inspector admitted today that he would have “concerns and reservations” about approaching a lone male police officer at night with a problem, following the sentencing of Sarah Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens.
Zoe Billingham, chief inspector for her Majesty Police Inspectorate, also said she could not say “with certainty” that the murder of a woman by a police officer in Britain would never happen again.
Her comments came as former Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Parm Sandhu cautioned that, in his experience, male officers have a similar rank to their female colleagues who raise concerns about their behavior on the job.
Ms. Sandhu, who is now mentoring young women becoming officers, also spoke of her concern about the number of women who would feel safe getting into a police officer’s car, describing Couzens as “a monster in uniform “.
Couzens’ former boss Dame Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, faces calls to resign in the wake of the murder amid demands for urgent action to restore women’s trust in the police.
The Met instantly distanced itself from Couzens yesterday before her sentencing began, referring to him as a ‘former Metropolitan Police officer’ in a statement even though she wore her job and her police belt. to kill her.
Couzens was charged with indecent exposure at a branch of McDonald’s fast food restaurant in Swanley, Kent, three days before Miss Everard’s death, but she was not arrested or removed from service while the matter was investigated.
The 48-year-old man had been charged with the same crime in Dover in 2015, while working as an officer with the Civil Nuclear Police. A motorist allegedly saw him driving naked from the waist down, but no arrests were made.
He also allegedly made his classmates uncomfortable and he was nicknamed ‘the rapist’. The police watchdog, the Independent Office of Police Conduct, is investigating whether the allegations were adequately dealt with.
Couzens, 48, who was sentenced today at the Old Bailey, strangled Miss Everard, 33, with his police belt after kidnapping her in South London under the pretext of a false arrest for violating the rules of confinement .
Zoe Billingham, a senior inspector with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, said that she could not say ‘with certainty’ that the murder of a woman by a police officer
She added: ‘I think this is a watershed moment for the police. I think we cannot accept the narrative that this was something exceptional, that he was a villain, and I believe that all forces now in the country must seek to restore trust and legitimacy.
“Because what Wayne Couzens did to Sarah Everard has struck the heart of police legitimacy in England and Wales.
‘He needs to be treated like this, and I would call for force in the country to be held accountable now immediately, not tomorrow, today to be immediately accountable to their communities on what exactly they are going to do to ensure this never happens again.’
When asked by presenter Emma Barnett how safe she would feel going to a police officer at night with a problem, Ms Billingham said: ‘Right now, like any other woman, I have concerns and reservations, and that is why I say Today we cannot dismiss Wayne Couzens as something exceptional, as a rarity, as an aberration.
“We must see all the police forces in England and Wales stepping up to tell their communities exactly what they are doing to ensure that women are safe. We have yet to see and say for sure that this may not happen again. ”
Ms. Billingham’s comments came two weeks after she published a report claiming that police chiefs should treat violence against women as seriously as terrorism and stop getting rid of a number of crimes. ” dazzling”.
Meanwhile, Ms Sandhu, who lives in Sevenoaks, Kent, told Sky News: ‘Throughout my service there have been incidents of sexism. I was lucky that I always managed to defend myself at a cost, and there have been obstacles.
“I am still mentoring young women who are joining the police service now. And you have to be strong, you have to be able to cope with these things and you have to say it.
Sarah Everard, 33, was raped and murdered in March
But unfortunately most of the people who work in the police service are men so it boils down to jokes and it comes down to ‘oh you can’t take a joke’.
So you have to be careful about the battles you fight, and I think that’s why this monster got away with some of the comments and some of the actions that he did in this workplace, that’s why they called him ‘the rapist ‘at work.
“But no one was strong enough to take him further, or strong enough to make him leave the organization.”
She continued: ‘My biggest concern now is how many women will feel safe getting into a police officer’s car. The police service must be able to protect and serve our communities. We’re supposed to be part of the community … So, in my opinion, something needs to be done to rebuild that trust.
Ms. Sandhu also said: ‘This man is a monster in uniform who went through the investigation procedures, so we have to see how we are investigating people.’
Meanwhile, Dame Cressida faces calls to resign, and MP Harriet Harman calls on Interior Minister Priti Patel to take urgent action to “rebuild the shattered confidence of women in the police service.”
She has told Dame Cressida that she needs to step aside to ‘allow these changes to take place’.
In a letter to Dame Cressida, the MP from Camberwell and Peckham, who is also a mother of the House of Commons and chair of the Joint Human Rights Committee, said: “ Women must have confidence that the police are there to protect them. , so as not to put them at risk. Women should be able to trust the police, not fear them.
‘I have written to the Home Secretary to lay out a series of steps that must be taken to rebuild the shattered confidence of women in the police service.
‘I think it is not possible for you to lead these necessary actions in the Metropolitan Police. I am sure you must acknowledge this and I ask you to step down to allow these changes to take place and for women to have justified confidence in the police ”.
Yesterday: Protesters hold placards while awaiting sentencing of Wayne Couzens outside the Old Bailey in London
In a second letter to Ms Patel about Wayne Couzens ‘crimes, she said:’ It is clear that there were too many warning signs about him that had been swept under the rug. It cannot be reconstructed with the attempt to ensure that this was fair, as the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police said, a ‘bad’un’.
Former Couzens boss Dame Cressida Dick, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, faces calls to resign +8
Dame Cressida Dick, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, faces calls to resign in the wake of murder
“Women’s confidence in the police can only be rebuilt with immediate and substantive change.”
She called on the Minister of the Interior to come up with changes that include:
Immediately suspend officers from their duties when there is a complaint of violence against women.
Dismiss officers immediately when there is a conviction or admission of such a crime.
Disciplinary action for serious misconduct, leading to dismissal, for not informing fellow officers for a complaint of violence against women.
Examine someone’s attitudes toward violence against women, including engaging in acts of violence during sexual intercourse, as part of screening police recruits.
New controls on agents who move from one force to another due to complaints of violence against women.
Training for all current duty officers with a course that teaches them to ‘examine their own attitudes towards violence against women and recognize signs in their colleagues’.
Anna Birley, co-founder of Reclaim These Streets, said “very little” has changed since Miss Everard’s death and accused the government of failing to protect women from violent crime.
The 32-year-old, who is also a Lambeth Council Councilor for Labor and Cooperatives and has helped organize vigils for Miss Everard and other murdered women in London, said a “ total change is needed within our justice system. criminal ”.
She said: ‘What’s depressing is that very little has changed. The government must stop wasting time and take tangible steps to prevent women from being killed. ”
Zoe Billingham Quick and Facts
- Zoe Billingham reveals she has ‘concerns and reservations’ about approaching a male officer at night
- Can’t say ‘with certainty’ that the murder of a woman by a police officer in Britain wouldn’t happen again
- Former Scotland Yard chief inspector Parm Sandhu says male officers close rank against female colleagues
- Wayne Couzens’s old boss Dame Cressida Dick is facing calls to resign in the wake of the murder in March