Police: Trust, but verify

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 (West End Final)
(West End Final)

institutionsA week ago, if you were stopped by a plain-clothes police officer, would you have challenged them? Or would you cooperate on the basis of trust in and deference to an institution?

In the aftermath of the whole-life sentence given to PC Wayne Couzens for the rape and murder of Sarah Everard, Assistant Met Commissioner Nick Ephgrave stated that it is “entirely reasonable” for the public to demand “independent verification” if stopped.

North Yorkshire Police Commissioner Philip Allott went as far as to suggest that Everard should “never should have submitted” to the arrest. Excuse me?

There were numerous opportunities to save Sarah Everard’s life. They lie not with the victim – who was only walking home and following what she thought were legitimate police instructions – but with a systemic failure at the Met.

Labour MP and shadow domestic violence and safeguarding minister Jess Phillips told Radio 4: “If I were Sarah Everard that night, I would have got in the car. And almost anyone would have got in the car.” Quite.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick is this afternoon under enormous pressure, most recently over toxic texts between Wayne Couzens and other officers.

Lord Stevens, who as Sir John Stevens was Met Commissioner between 2000 and 2005, said the vetting process was “not fit for purpose” in failing to prevent the recruitment of Wayne Couzens to the force in 2018.

As we write in today’s leader column, Wayne Couzens was not one bad apple. Threats of intimidation and violence against women are rife across society and its instituions.

It will only be eradicated — and eradication must be our aim — by root and branch reform, alongside an unerring determination from the top of Government.

In the comment pages, Philip Collins piece on how Everard’s murder must be a catalyst for change is an absolute must-read. Our Friday Diary is written by Anna Birley, a co-founder of Reclaim These Streets, who warns that any remaining trust women had in the Met after Everard’s murder is now gone.

And finally, on a lighter note after a pretty bleak few days, grab a tea (or not tea) and read Jessie Thompson’s one-star (I don’t think the Standard does zero stars) review of Diana the Musical.

To quote Jessie in all her glory, “Hearing the words ‘Jaaames Hewitttt’ sung in the manner of Meatloaf made me honestly wonder if I was on acid.”

Have a lovely – and safe – weekend.

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