Sarah Everard murder: Boris Johnson says 'infuriating' police aren't taking violence against women seriously enough

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Boris Johnson has said "infuriating" police forces don't take violence against women seriously enough and are "not doing enough help victims".

In the aftermath of the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by former Met Police officer Wayne Couzens, the prime minister blamed the failure on the slow progress of those types of cases in the criminal justice system - adding "we need to fix that".

In an interview with the Times about Ms Everard's case, Mr Johnson said the problem "is partly caused by the failure of the criminal justice system to dispose of these (cases)".

"Are the police taking this issue seriously enough? It's infuriating. I think the public feel that they aren't and they're not wrong," he added.

Mr Johnson said that officers seem to be losing hope in the justice system, saying: "The police are realising when they arrest someone they're not getting through the system fast enough.

"Very sadly that may well be one of the reasons why they're not doing enough to help the victims that report and we need to fix that."

But he defended the police as trustworthy. "Do I fundamentally believe the police are on our side? Yes absolutely they are.

"Can you trust the police? Yes, you can. But there is an issue about how we handle sexual violence, domestic violence, the sensitivity, the diligence, the time, the delay, the confusion about your mobile phone. That's the thing we need to fix."

His words come after broadcast interviews in which he backed Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, who has faced calls to resign.

A YouGov poll found 38% of adults in the UK think she should quit, while 27% said she should stay and 35% didn't know.

Asked if he has confidence in the Met Police given vetting failures over Couzens, Mr Johnson said: "Yes I do. And I think that needs to be looked into.

"And I think that (Home Secretary) Priti Patel is absolutely right, we've got to get to the bottom of what on earth happened with Wayne Couzens, we need to make sure that nothing like that happens again.

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

Mr Johnson said hundreds of thousands of officers would be "heartsick" by the "appalling murder of Ms Everard".

"I think there will be hundreds of thousands of police officers, let alone myself, up and down the country who will be absolutely heartsick by what has happened, the appalling murder of Sarah Everard by a police officer," he said.

"And what I would really urge the public, I want to make it clear, I do believe in the police."

Home Secretary Priti Patel told The Telegraph: "I would say to all women - give voice to these issues, please. It's right that that happens. There is something so corrosive in society if people think that it's OK to harass women verbally, physically, and in an abusive way on the street, and all that kind of stuff.

"I want women to have the confidence to call it out. I don't see all of this as low level. Where I am on this is parity of treatment of anyone that reports a crime. I don't want to see postcode lotteries around the country.

"This is a very clear message to police to raise the bar. Treat everybody in the right way. Make sure that when these crimes or concerns are reported, people are treated with respect, dignity and seriously."

Are women safe on our streets?

The murder of Ms Everard by a serving Metropolitan Police officer has triggered an outpouring of concern over women's safety in the UK.

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