PM urges public to trust the police after Sarah Everard’s murder

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Boris Johnson has urged the public to trust the police after the revelation a serving police officer made a false arrest to kidnap Sarah Everard.

In his first interview since Ms Everard’s killer, Wayne Couzens, was sentenced to life in prison, the Prime Minister said he was “heart sick” over Ms Everard’s murder as he pledged to make changes to tackle violence against women and girls.

He said government was examining how the criminal justice system could be sped up for complaints of sexual violence, as well as speaking of the need to recruit more female officers.

Speaking to BBC News, he said: “I want to make it clear that I do believe in the police, I do think that we can trust the police and I think the police do a wonderful, wonderful job.

“There is a problem in the way we handle rape, domestic violence, sexual violence, and the way we handle the complaints of women and girls, and it is overwhelmingly women and girls, and although the incidence of some of these serious crimes is not actually going up in the way that you might think, we’re having success in getting many crime types down.

“The problem is we have too few prosecutions for rape, and too few successful prosecutions, too few convictions.

Wayne Couzens (right) and Sarah Everard beside a vehicle outside Poynders Court on Poynders Road, Clapham, south London (CCTV/Metropolitan Police/PA)
Wayne Couzens (right) and Sarah Everard beside a vehicle outside Poynders Court on Poynders Road, Clapham, south London (CCTV/Metropolitan Police/PA)

“So yesterday I got together the crime and justice taskforce again and what were trying to do is compress that timetable between a woman’s complaint about what has happened and any action, whether it’s the court proceeding or the conviction or whatever because the time from reporting to referral, from referral to the court proceedings, from the court proceedings to the conclusion, all three of those segments is far too long.

“And what you’re seeing is the whole system snarled up with evidential problems, with data issues, mobile phones disclosure, all of that kind of stuff and it’s a nightmare for the women concerned so we’ve got to fix it.”

He continued: “Should we believe in the police, should we trust in the police? Yes, I do.

“We’ve got to get to the bottom of what on earth happened with Wayne Couzens and make sure nothing like that ever happens again.

“But what we’re doing is now not just putting a lot more money into safer streets, into CCTV, into streetlights, but recruiting more female police officers and I think that can make the most fundamental change of all.

Police
Prime Minister Boris Johnson talks to recruits during a 2019 visit to Metropolitan Police training college in Hendon, north London (Aaron Chown/PA)

“The new recruits, I think, were 37% female last year, I think it’s even higher this year, above 40%, we hope, and that will make a lasting difference to the culture of the police force.

“So are there things we need to do?

“Yes there are, across a huge range of issues from the way we handle these complaints to the way we speed up the whole criminal justice process, but should be have confidence in the police, should we believe in policing?

“Absolutely.”

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