Britain’s biggest police force will deploy undercover officers outside bars and clubs in a bid to reduce violence against women and girls.
The Metropolitan Police unveiled the move on Wednesday as part of a wider action plan, stressing the plain-clothes officers will operate in pairs and will not go inside the venues.
Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick had already announced last month that undercover officers will video-call a uniformed sergeant to prove their identity if they ever need to stop a lone woman.
Concerns had been raised following the death of marketing executive Sarah Everard who was killed by a serving officer who staged a fake arrest in order to kidnap, rape and murder her.
Initial advice from the force for women who feel unsure about someone claiming to be a police officer to flag down a passing bus or run into someone’s house was heavily criticised.
It brings together all of our work to prevent male violence against women and girls, in public spaces as well as domestic settings and online; to target perpetrators, and with the wider criminal justice service, to improve outcomes for victims
Met commissioner Dame Cressida Dick
On Wednesday, Dame Cressida met with community groups from Lambeth and Southwark to discuss the force’s plans to tackle violence against women and girls, boost the number of criminals brought to justice and also tackle sexual misconduct and domestic violence by its own officers and staff.
As part of the plan, the Met will pilot a scheme in the two boroughs where teams of plain-clothed and uniformed officers will be deployed together to identify predators near pubs, bars and clubs.
The idea is the undercover officers identify “anyone who may be displaying predatory behaviour” in public spaces and ask uniformed colleagues to step in when needed.
Force chiefs have already deployed 650 officers into new town centre teams while patrols in open spaces and at transport hubs have been increased.
Dame Cressida said: “This plan details how we will do more and better to keep women and girls safe.
“It brings together all of our work to prevent male violence against women and girls, in public spaces as well as domestic settings and online; to target perpetrators, and with the wider criminal justice service, to improve outcomes for victims.
“We will increase officers’ skills and maximise the impact of key units such as our predatory offender units, town centre teams, and other specialist units, and further improve digital investigation, intelligence and the quality of case files.”
“We want the public’s views and will update the plan following this engagement.”