Sarah Everard: UK women told to flag down passers-by if they do not trust police

London's Metropolitan Police says it will deploy 650 additional officers in busy public places and increase patrols to help protect women and girls

Following the conviction of Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens' for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, UK women on Friday were advised by the London force to wave down a bus or shout out to passers-by if they are stopped by a police officer they do not trust.

Couzens duped Everard into getting into his car in south London on March 3, under a “false arrest” for Covid-19 offences, the court had heard.

The Met made a string of suggestions on what people could do if they are approached by an officer who they believe may not be acting legitimately.

Police officials suggested people should ask where the officer’s colleagues are, where they have come from, why they are there, and exactly why they are stopping or talking to them.

Anyone could verify the police officer by asking to hear their radio operator or asking to speak to the radio operator themselves, the force said.

Police officials suggested those with concerns could shout out to a passer-by, run into a house, knock on a door, wave down a bus or call 999 – the UK emergency services number.

The Met stressed the advice was given for specific, and rare, scenarios in which people might find themselves.

“It is unusual for a single plain-clothes police officer to engage with anyone in London,” said police.

“If that does happen, and it may do for various reasons, in instances where the officer is seeking to arrest you, you should then expect to see other officers arrive shortly afterwards.

“However, if that doesn’t happen and you do find yourself in an interaction with a sole police officer and you are on your own, it is entirely reasonable for you to seek further reassurance of that officer’s identity and intentions.

“If, after all of that, you feel in real and imminent danger and you do not believe the officer is who they say they are, for whatever reason, then I would say you must seek assistance – shouting out to a passer-by, running into a house, knocking on a door, waving a bus down or if you are in the position to do so, calling 999.”

Met vows to do more to protect women

The advice came as the Met said it would deploy 650 new officers into busy public places and increase patrols to do more to protect women and girls and help them feel safe.

The force also promised to “step up” patrols in areas identified as “hotspot” locations for violence and harassment, and plain-clothes officers will now work in pairs where possible.

Scotland Yard police chiefs promised to publish a new strategy for tackling violence against women and girls, outlining how it will prioritise action against sexual and violent predatory offenders.

This is set to accompany a Predatory Offender Unit which, since last November, has resulted in the arrests of more than 2,000 suspects for domestic abuse, sex offences and child abuse.

Sarah Everard case — in pictures

Updated: October 1st 2021, 6:51 PM
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