Plain Clothes Police To Video Call Into Stations When Stopping Women, Says Met Chief
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Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick told members of the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee that the new system will be introduced following the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer who staged a fake arrest in order to kidnap her.
She said: "What I can say today is we are launching our ‘safe connection’, as we call it, which allows a woman who is stopped by such a police officer immediately to have verification that this is a police officer.
“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 X, Y, Z’ – so a quick, easy way, which again is instigated by the officer, not by the woman having to ask for this.”
The announcement comes after the murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, who was stopped by Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48 as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London.
Couzens, who had clocked off from a 12-hour shift that morning, went on to rape and strangle the marketing executive.
The force was heavily criticised after suggesting that women who are concerned they are not being stopped legitimately should try to flag down a passing bus or run to a nearby house.
Dame Cressida stressed that the onus should be on the police officer to properly identify themselves, and that the bus advice given was “if all else fails” when someone may want to try to get help.
She said: “I want to be clear, the onus is on the officer.
“The onus is on the officer to deal professionally with the person that they are speaking to, and in the very unusual circumstance in which a plain-clothes officer is talking to a lone female, which is likely to be extremely unusual in London, we would expect them to go to every effort first of all to recognise that the woman may feel uncomfortable, to explain themselves well, to identify themselves well.
“It would normally be the case that they would be in a pair anyway.”