The Metropolitan Police’s advice for women to stay safe if they are approached by a lone police officer has landed flat online.
The Met advised women to “flag down a bus”, challenge the legitimacy of a lone plain-clothed police officer, or call 999 if they are concerned about a particular officer on Thursday.
The tips came the day after Sarah Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens was sentenced to a whole-life order for using his powers as a serving police officer to falsely arrest, kidnap, rape and murder her with his police belt.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner tweeted: “What is going on at the top of the Metropolitan Police? Give me strength.”
Met Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has received some serious backlash and calls for her to resign over Couzens.
Colleagues reportedly used to call him “The Rapist” and there were alleged incidents in the past which suggested he could be a threat to women and girls before he joined the police force.
Others pointed out the futility of the police advice.
Comic Ken Cheng said: “Famously police officers have no recourse if you get on a bus; their badges, uniforms and weapons carry no authority there.”
Another noted how Couzens was a legitimate, serving police officer when he committed his crimes – and therefore calling the police to check his authority may not have helped the situation.
The Guardian’s parliamentary sketch writer John Crace tweeted: “After six months, the best the Met can come up with is ‘flag down a bus’.”
Activist Ash Sarkar pointed out how this advice is tailored to change the behaviour of women, not how to prevent another person acting like Wayne Couzens.
Author Musa Okwonga mocked the police advice for the general public to run away from an unmarked police car or plain-clothed officers if they “genuinely feel fearful” – and suggested there would be severe consequences if a black person tried to do this.
Others remembered the controversial reaction the police had to the vigil held in Everard’s honour back in March, which saw multiple officers restrain individual women in a bid to control a large gathering during a Covid lockdown.
The tips surrounding “flagging down a bus” if you feel in danger prompted a wave of scathing responses online too, as Twitter users expressed their outrage over the Met’s inadequate reaction to Everard’s death.
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