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01 October 2021

Met ridiculed for advising women to flag down bus or call out to passers-by if they don’t trust police

01 October 2021

Women have been advised to wave down a bus or shout out to passers-by if they are stopped by a police officer they do not trust.

The Metropolitan Police made a string of suggestions on what people could do if they are approached by an officer but have concerns they are not acting legitimately as it set out a series of measures it was taking in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard.

But the seemingly simplistic advice has been met with anger and disbelief.

Jess Phillips, Labour’s shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, said the advice is ‘tone deaf’, adding she ‘would have got in the car and almost anybody would have got in the car’ and ‘the onus is on the Metropolitan Police to do better’.

“If I were Sarah Everard that night, I would have got in the car. And almost anyone would have got in the car.

“So the suggestion that somehow, we have to change our behaviour once again, I have to say a bit tiring.”

She said she wants to see violence against women and girls prioritised in every police force across the UK and in the Whitehall offices of the Home Office.

The MP added violence against women and girls should be given the same resources as other crime types such as terrorism and county lines gangs.

“I want finally to not have to keep asking that this should be a priority,” she said. “The seriousness of this crime should never be underestimated.

“Domestic abuse is like domestic terrorism. Rape and sexual violence cases, again and again, being turned away. I don’t want to hear about pieces of paper and strategies written. I want to see action, where this actually changes.”

Shadow cabinet member Wes Streeting said: “Apparently bus drivers should stop if someone is waving them down in the street away from a bus stop, just in case, because that’s a better answer than the Met getting their act together?! Utterly woeful.”

The Met 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, before suggesting those with concerns could shout out to a passer-by, run into a house, knock on a door, wave a bus down, or call 999.

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.

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