Since Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens was sentenced for the murder of Sarah Everard, cops have given women disgraceful “advice” on how to stay safe.
It comes as another Met officer in the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command—the same as Couzens—was charged with rape.
PC David Carrick was off-duty at the time of the alleged offence on 4 September last year in St. Albans, police said.
After this revelation, Met police chief Cressida Dick must go now.
The powers that were granted to Couzens allowed him to use his police badge to arrest Everard and then to kidnap, rape and murder her.
The Met says that to avoid this happening, women should ask cops for their warrant cards if they’re worried about their identities.
For Everard this advice would’ve made no difference seeing as Couzens had already shown his. Alternatively, if a woman still has doubts, she is advised to ring the police control room to confirm the officer’s identity according to the Met.
But being off-duty won’t be enough to raise concerns as police can mark themselves as on-duty to make arrests. Another piece of advice is that women should consider “shouting out to a passerby, running into a house, knocking on a door or waving a bus down”.
Firstly, this assumes all women are approached on busy roads with plenty of witnesses.
And if the police are here to protect, why should women have to run away at all?
The reality is that the police and the system they defend are rotten with institutional sexism and so will always pose a threat to women.
When Everard was arrested, witnesses didn’t intervene as they assumed she had done something wrong.
Often, because of the power police have over ordinary people, many don’t want to intervene in their business on the streets out of fear.
Those that do challenge an arrest are at best shooed away or at worst arrested and attacked themselves. North Yorkshire police chief Philip Allott’s advice to women was to “be streetwise about when they can be arrested and when they can’t be arrested”.
“Knowing your rights” doesn’t stop police from assaulting their victims. And telling women to take responsibility lets officers off the hook.
So the Met’s response to not deploying plain-clothed officers alone is not enough.
Neither is an independent inquiry or announcing that the vetting process for officers isn’t fit for purpose.
It’s the police who aren’t fit for purpose.
The only way to keep women safe from cops on the streets is to defund the police—a slogan that gained popularity during the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Defunding the police doesn’t just mean taking away money from the police and redistributing it to institutions that actually help women.
The slogan has to go further to mean abolishing the police altogether.
Instead of curbing the cops, the Tories are handing them more powers in the police bill going through parliament now.
They are targeting all protests, Gypsy Roma and Traveller people, black people and other groups. But a particular target at the moment is climate protesters.
The Tories look set to bring in six-month prison sentences for activists who block motorways.
It’s a direct response to the Insulate Britain protesters.
Home secretary Priti Patel said at the Tory Party conference that people using “guerrilla tactics” to block roads could also face unlimited fines.
The current fine for obstructing highways is £1,000.
Police will now be given the power to stop and search activists for “lock-on” equipment. This means even carrying a bike lock could result in being arrested.
Despite injunctions, Insulate Britain protesters have continued to blockade motorways.
Boris Johnson also told the Mail on Sunday newspaper that he wanted the “toughest penalties possible for criminals who deliberately bring major roads to a standstill. We will give the police the powers they need.”
One key flashpoint will be the Cop26 talks in Glasgow.
Scottish police have issued a warning to Extinction Rebellion that they will not stand for disruptive tactics such as blocking motorways.
But activists have said they have “no choice” but to cause disruption in November in order to force the hands of those in power.
One rebel, Ruth D, said in a radio interview, “As usual, we’re going to be doing some of the things that we’re famous for—we will be doing targeted disruption.“Disruption seems to be the only thing that really gets the government’s attention because they really, really don’t like it. And because we care so much, we are willing to put ourselves on the line and be disruptive.”
That’s right, and everyone should stand with those who plan to block roads during Cop 26.
This type of resistance to the Tories’ is vital in the fight against the climate crisis and to defend the right to protest.
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