, it’s been another week in which women are faced with the bleak reality that we just aren’t safe doing, well, anything really. In one London courtroom, a man appeared charged with the murder of Sabina Nessa
. And in another, the man who raped and murdered Sarah Everard
attended his sentencing hearing. Both these women were simply walking near their homes: Sabina was walking out, Sarah was walking back. And both paid for this everyday activity with their lives.
As I write, we don’t yet know the full details of what happened to Sabina Nessa and we still know little about her alleged attacker. But we know plenty about what was done to Sarah Everard and the man who did it.
We know that he was a firearms officer with the Metropolitan Police in London. We know that he was hired by the Met in 2018, despite reportedly being called “The Rapist” by his colleagues at the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, a nickname he was given
thanks to how uncomfortable he made his female colleagues feel, and despite having been accused of indecent exposure back in 2015
We know that he abused the powers he was given under Covid lockdown regulations to con Sarah Everard into getting into his car. We know he flashed his warrant card and we know he handcuffed her. Most chillingly, a witness saw him do it but didn’t intervene because, completely reasonably, they assumed it was a police officer going about his official, legal, police officer business.
All of this raises serious questions for the Met specifically, and policing more broadly, about the standard of the background checks they carry out prior to hiring an officer, as well as any ongoing monitoring of their behaviour. As I wrote in the Telegraph
last week, contrary to the Met police commissioner, Cressida Dick’s framing of Couzens as an aberrant “bad ‘un,”
his case may have been extreme but it was certainly not isolated:
Between 2019 and 2020, 160 officers in the Met alone have been accused
of sexual assault, sexual harassment and other forms of sexual misconduct. Only four people have been either “suspended or restricted” as a result. This month, another Met officer has been in court, charged with 19 voyeurism offences
. High standards indeed.
Meanwhile, one woman every week
is coming forward to report domestic abuse by a police officer. At least fifteen women
— the majority of them domestic violence victims — have been killed by police officers in the past twelve years. And the conviction rates for police officers who abuse their partners are almost half the national average
. In April the BBC revealed
that the Met was investigating an officer for raping two of his colleagues an astonishing three years after the allegations were reported. He had not even been suspended.
That “high standards” jibe btw is also in reference to Cressida Dick who in the same speech she downplayed Couzens as an isolated bad apple, also claimed that the Met has “high standards in how we work to identify and tackle and prevent any such behaviours.”