Sarah Everard: Priti Patel says she will “continue to work with” Cressida Dick even after calls for her to resign

Sarah Everard: Priti Patel says she will “continue to work with” Cressida Dick even after calls for her to resign
Sarah Everard Mark PKG for DIGI
Josh Kaplan

By Josh Kaplan

Published: 30/09/2021

- 14:32

Updated: 30/09/2021

- 14:44

Harriet Harman has called on the commissioner to resign

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said that she will 'continue to work with' Cressida Dick even after senior MPs have called for the police chief's resignation.

Asked why Couzens was allowed to be a police officer, Priti Patel said: “First of all, these are questions for the Metropolitan Police and these are questions that have been asked already, I should just be very clear about that.

“In my holding of account of the Metropolitan Police in previous months, as I said from the minute Sarah went missing these were clear points and questions and challenges put to the Metropolitan Police and to the Met Commissioner directly.

“Now just on this point in particular, we all have to be very clear that right now there is a grieving family and with that there are many women and girls who simply feel unsafe as to what has happened and will listen to what the judge has said today around the abuse of trust and the abuse of power by a serving officer in the Metropolitan Police.

“It is my duty and my responsibility to hold the police to account, to continue to ask questions that I have been asking over recent months, but also I think importantly to ensure that the change that we need to see within the police actually takes place.”

Dame Cressida Dick is facing calls to resign in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder amid demands for urgent action to restore the confidence of women in the police.

Harriet Harman MP has asked Home Secretary Priti Patel to take urgent action to “rebuild the shattered confidence of women in the police service”, and has told the Metropolitan Police Commissioner she needs to step aside to “enable these changes to be taken through”.

In a letter to Dame Cressida, the MP for Camberwell and Peckham, who is also mother of the House of Commons and chairman of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, said: “Women need to be confident that the police are there to make them safe, not to put them at risk. Women need to be able to trust the police, not to fear them.

“I have written to the Home Secretary to set out a number of actions which must be taken to rebuild the shattered confidence of women in the police service.

“I think it is not possible for you to lead these necessary actions in the Metropolitan Police. I am sure that you must recognise this, and I ask you to resign to enable these changes to be taken through and for women to be able to have justified confidence in the police.”

In a second letter to Ms Patel discussing the crimes of Wayne Couzens, she said: “It is clear that there had been all too many warning signs about him which had been swept under the carpet. It cannot be rebuilt with the attempt to reassure that this was just, as the Metropolitan Police Commissioner said, one ‘bad’un’.

“Women’s confidence in the police can only be rebuilt with substantive and immediate change.”

She called on the Home Secretary to bring forward changes including:

– Immediately suspending officers from duty where there is an allegation of violence against women.

– Dismissing officers immediately when there is a conviction or admission of such a crime.

– Disciplinary action of gross misconduct, leading to dismissal, for failing to report fellow officers for an allegation of violence against women.

– Scrutinising someone’s attitudes to violence against women, including engaging in violence during sex, as part of vetting of police recruits.

– Fresh checks on officers who transfer between forces for allegations of violence against women.

– Training for all current serving officers with a course to teach them to “examine their own attitudes to violence against women and recognise signs in their colleagues”.

Anna Birley, co-founder of Reclaim These Streets, said “very little” has changed since Ms Everard’s death and she accused the Government of failing to protect women from violent crime.

The 32-year-old, who is also a Labour and Co-operative councillor for Lambeth Council and has helped organise vigils for Ms Everard and other women murdered in London, said a “wholesale change within our criminal justice system” is needed.

She told the PA news agency: “What’s depressing is very little has changed.

“The Government needs to stop dilly-dallying and take tangible action to stop women from being killed.”

Dr Rachel Fenton, who leads research into violence against women at the University of Exeter, said the clear message sent by the courts was important but the sentencing “will not repair relations between the police and women”, adding: “Convictions are at an all-time low.

“Rape and violence against women come from systemic and institutionalised misogyny across society and our institutions.

“The proposed solutions of more lighting and CCTV are only sticking plasters and male violence against women desperately needs to be addressed at scale and at the roots.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also said “no woman should have to fear harassment or violence”, as he said he was “sickened” by the details of Sarah Everard’s murder which emerged during Wayne Couzens’ sentencing hearing.

“There are no words that adequately express the horror of Sarah’s murder. Like the rest of the country, I have been sickened by what we have heard over the course of this sentencing and the pain and suffering endured by her family and friends is truly unimaginable.

“Our police are there to protect us – and I know that officers will share in our shock and devastation at the total betrayal of this duty. People must be able to walk on our streets without fear of harm and with full confidence that the police are there to keep them safe.

“No woman should have to fear harassment or violence. We will do everything possible to prevent these abhorrent crimes and keep our communities safe.”

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