Met Police: Cressida Dick says controversial bus advice given to women was ‘taken out of context’

Dame Cressida Dick, who has faced growing calls to resign, has announced there will be an independent review of standards in the Met Police

Dame Cressida Dick has again resisted calls to resign - and said widely criticised advice for women to flag down a bus if concerned about an officer was “taken out of context”.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner said she is calling in an independent reviewer to look at the culture and standards in the force after the horrifying crime.

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It comes as the Prime Minister highlighted the “massive” task to restore public confidence following the murder of Sarah Everard.

Armed officer Wayne Couzens used his police issue handcuffs and warrant card to stage the fake arrest of 33-year-old Ms Everard before he raped and murdered her.

After the killing it emerged that the 48-year-old was known as “the rapist” by staff at the Civil Nuclear Constabulary because he made female colleagues feel so uncomfortable.

He had been accused of indecent exposure in Kent in 2015 and in London in the days before Ms Everard’s murder, but was allowed to continue working.

What did Cressida Dick say?

Dame Cressida said: “These events have been absolutely dreadful. I speak for my colleagues when I say we are furious.

“We depend on the trust of the public, we police by consent and I know that public trust has been damaged.

“People are rightly gravely concerned about what they’ve seen and, as a consequence, today I’m announcing that we will have an independent person come in and review the Met in terms of its standards, and in terms of its culture, how we treat each other, and how we treat the public.

“Our leadership, our processes, our systems, our people, our training, everything will be looked at.

“This will be a fully transparent report, it will respond to me, but will, of course, make recommendations for changes, I’m sure, and those will be public.”

She plans to announce who will undertake the review, expected to take at least six months, in about a week’s time.

Responding to calls for her to resign over the Everard case, she said: “People will be entitled to their opinion, I’ve got a job to do, I’m getting on with it.

“My job now is to lead the Met through a difficult time and rebuild that public trust.”

The murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer continues to prompt much national soul-searching over policing and women's safety.

‘Taken out of context’

Government ministers and Scotland Yard were accused of having a tone-deaf response to violence against women and girls after publishing a list of suggestions over what action the public should take if they fear an officer is not acting legitimately.

Addressing the comments relating to the advice to flag down a bus, the Met Police Commissioner said: “So I think this was rather taken out of context.

“I think we all realise that a lone woman being approached by a man in plain clothes, reporting to be a police officer, might be concerning and my officers, my male officers, understand that absolutely.

“It will be rare for a woman to meet a single, plain clothes officer. I can’t rule it out but it will be a rare occurrence. The officer will be sensitive to the fact that the person may be concerned.”

She added the officer in question will identify themselves, be happy to answer questions but the woman in question could ask the officer to get in touch with the control room and “in extremis she may wish to seek other help” if she is still worried.

“I do want to stress, the vast majority of my police officers are good people,” Dame Cressida said.

“They’re doing their very best in sometimes difficult circumstances… they will want to assist the woman to feel safe and comfortable in that encounter.”

‘Massive job’ to restore confidence

Boris Johnson said there is now “a massive job” to do to restore women’s confidence in the police.

The Prime Minister said: “What we can certainly conclude from the Wayne Couzens case and what happened there is that there is a massive job of work to do to give women the confidence that they need.

“I want to be clear: I believe people should be confident in the police. I believe police officers, men and women up and down the country, will be absolutely sickened by what has happened, and they will be doing everything they can, and I know they do everything they can to help and reassure the public. So, it is vital that the public trust the police.

“But what we need to do is do some things to make the streets safer and we are investing massively in CCTV and street lighting and those sorts of things, but also make sure we change the culture of policing.”

Flowers surround the Clapham Common bandstand memorial to murdered Sarah Everard. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

He also called for crimes to be dealt with more quickly and for a boost in the recruitment of female police officers.

Meanwhile, at the weekend Police Scotland introduced a new verification check which lone officers will offer to members of the public they speak to.

Officers in Scotland normally work in pairs, and although it is rare for a lone police officer to approach a member of the public there are occasions when this could happen.

The new process, which was introduced on Saturday (2 October), allows for the officer’s personal radio to be put on loudspeaker and for an officer or member of police staff in a Police Scotland Control Room to confirm the officer is who they say they are.

It would also confirm they are on duty and the reason the officer is speaking to the member of the public.

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