Like Sarah Everard, I would have got into the car, says Labour MP Jess Phillips

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Labour MP Jess Phillips (PA)
Labour MP Jess Phillips (PA)

Labour MP Jess Phillips said like Sarah Everard she would have got in PC Wayne Couzens’ car.

Couzens used his police training, equipment and posed as an undercover officer who was enforcing the Covid-19 rules to snatch the 33-year-old marketing executive off the streets of London.

Before he was sentenced to die in prison, The Old Baily heard how Couzens put Ms Everard in the “rear stack” handcuff position when he staged a fake arrest.

Shadow domestic violence and safeguarding minister Phillips reacted to the Metropolitan police’s new advice for women to call 999 or flag down a bus driver if they’re concerned about an officer trying to arrest them.

Ms Phillips, who used to run shelters for women to escape their abusers, told Radio 4: ″I’m actually quite loathe to be giving out advice to women in the country.

“If I were Sarah Everard that night, I would have got in the car. And almost anyone would have got in the car.

“So the suggestion that somehow, we have to change our behaviour once again, I have to say a bit tiring.”

She said she wants to see violence against women and girls prioritised in every police force across the UK and in the Whitehall offices of the Home Office.

The MP added violence against women and girls should be given the same resources as other crime types such as terrorism and county lines gangs.

“I want finally to not have to keep asking that this should be a priority,” she said. “The seriousness of this crime should never be underestimated.

“Domestic abuse is like domestic terrorism. Rape and sexual violence cases, again and again, being turned away. I don’t want to hear about pieces of paper and strategies written. I want to see action, where this actually changes.”

Her comments came as Liberal Democrat Lord Paddick, who was a Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the force, said there was “widespread sexism in the force”.

He said women are safe with the “overwhelming majority” of police officers.

The retired police officer said there is a need for leaders who recognise problems with prejudice and be prepared to address them.

Lord Paddick said there needs to be a “cultural change”, particularly in the Met.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “There’s been a series of allegations recently in the Metropolitan Police about inappropriate behaviour by Metropolitan Police officers, and for me that’s a sign of a wider cultural problem.

“I wouldn’t go so far as to call it institutional misogyny, but I would describe it as widespread sexism within the force, and we need police leaders to acknowledge prejudice within the police service, and who are prepared to do something about it.”

Speaking to the Evening Standard, the Home Secretary stated “monster” Couzens would rightly spend the rest of his life behind bars.

“I don’t just say this as Home Secretary. I think women have basically said that’s it — enough is enough,” she said.

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