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Invisible Women: "we will protect him"

Invisible Women
Invisible Women: "we will protect him"
By Caroline Criado Perez • Issue #74 • View online
My dear GFPs, this week’s newsletter is again a slight deviation from standard procedure, because I want to spend some time really focusing in on a single issue that I think we have a chance to change. We’ll be back to usual service next time….except…
As we speak I am travelling across the country to drop Poppy off with my mum before the A[merican]B[eefcake] and I head off to catch a plane to the US! This will be the first time the AB has seen most of his family for two years so we are just praying to the Covid gods to not screw this up for us. It will also be the first time I will meet most of the AB’s family, AND it will be the first time I’ve been to Mississippi! Which I am very excited about! Except for all the poisonous toads and spiders and snakes 🤪 Anyway, the upshot is, I’m afraid you are going COLD TURKEY on this newsletter for the next few weeks as I’m reliably informed they don’t have the internet in America. (OK, I’m taking a holiday).
But before I go!

I was VERY EXCITED to get to meet (virtually) the legendary Annie Mac to record an episode of her podcast, Changes.
Annie Mac
On this week’s episode, I asked author and feminist activist @CCriadoPerez a lot of big questions - what are the solutions to women being safer on our streets? Listen here:
LOOK MA, IT’S ANNIE MAC! (I’m actually not sure my ma knows who Annie Mac is, but if she did she would be very impressed. That said, my mum is basically impressed by everything I do what with being my mum)
Anyway, we had a great chat about everything from apologetic husbands, to why I became a feminist, to how I am always right 😎
Have a listen here or share with someone who needs a bit of Invisible Women meets Annie Mac in their life ✊
‎Changes with Annie Macmanus: Caroline Criado Perez on Apple Podcasts
In other news, I am also VERY excited by how well our new MP emailing toy is working! Just ten hours after sending we had already reached 42% of MPs!
This is very good news because we are going to be using our new toy again this week and this one’s really important so DO NOT MISS this week’s homework of the week.
Gender data gap of the week
Before we get going, I recommend that you go back and read my original newsletter about institutional misogyny in British policing and the Met’s almost comical and yet actually not funny at all ability to continue to Just Not Get It.
This week in the Met Not Getting It, I am pleased to inform you that they have added to their list of Really Good Ideas for How Women Can Avoid Being Raped and Murdered By Police Officers.
Well, ladies, it just got better! Women who are approached by a lone male plain-clothes police officer can now also insist that he must video call a uniformed police officer to verify his identity and just…which part of HE WAS A POLICE OFFICER is so difficult for them?? Which part of he used his police warrant card and his police-issued handcuffs are they hoping we will forget if they call him a “former police officer” enough times?
This is just pure gaslighting from the Met. The fact that Wayne Couzens was a police officer is not a side issue: it is absolutely central to his crime, not only in how he carried it out, but also, and perhaps more importantly, in how he was enabled to carry it out by an institution that did not fire a man who had been reported for indecent exposure but instead promoted him to a specialist firearms unit.
At the time I wrote that newsletter Boris Johnson had just ruled out a public inquiry into the Sarah Everard case, claiming that the majority of officers were “overwhelmingly trustworthy” and urging women to have confidence in them.
if u say so, Mr PM
if u say so, Mr PM
Anyway, two days later, Priti Patel, the Home Secretary announced that actually, we would be getting an independent inquiry into “the systematic failures” that allowed Wayne Couzens to continue to be a police officer despite a veritable golf course of red flags:
“I can confirm today there will be an inquiry, to give the independent oversight needed, to ensure something like this can never happen again.”
The Home Office said the inquiry would be in two parts, with the first examining Couzens’ behaviour and establishing a definitive account of his conduct in the lead up to his conviction for Ms Everard’s murder.
It said the second part would address specific issues, such as vetting procedures, standards, discipline and workplace behaviour.
Which all sounds great, except that the inquiry is not statutory. This means that witnesses will not give evidence under oath, and there is no presumption that the hearings will take place in public. A non-statutory inquiry also cannot “provide legal safeguards,” and it will not have the legal power to compel witnesses to give evidence. Given the police’s tendency to close ranks and cover up for colleagues, this is suboptimal, to say the least.
A statement by Baroness Nuala O'Loan, the chair of the non-statutory Daniel Morgan Panel (which was established in 2013 to look into the unsolved 1987 murder of the private investigator Daniel Morgan) is instructive here. The panel only reported in June 2021, and the Baroness is clear about the role the Met played in the delay.
You get the picture: the Met does not have a history of cooperating with investigations into itself, and there is no reason, given their tragicomic responses to Wayne Couzens, to think that failing to make this inquiry statutory will result in anything other than the mother of all gendered data gaps.
The Home Office’s stated reasoning for not making this inquiry statutory is “the need to provide assurance as swiftly as possible”.
This makes no sense.
If the Home Office wants to act quickly making the inquiry statutory will help rather than hinder this process. For start, it will mean no time is wasted at the beginning with preliminary proceedings to determine a framework and a set of rules because a statutory inquiry follows a set framework. This means work could begin immediately.
Plus, as we can see from the Daniel Morgan Panel (and many others including the Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry, the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust Inquiry, and the Infected Blood Inquiry) rather than speeding things up, making an inquiry non-statutory slows things down because it relies on bodies like the Met cooperating and, well, lol.
The inquiry is also too narrowly focused: yes we have to know what the systematic failures were that allowed a man who had been reported for sexual offences (possibly as early as 2008) to not only keep his job but to be promoted to a specialist firearms unit. But the institutional rot extends way beyond Couzens.
In the five months between Couzens’ charge and sentencing at least six other serving or former Met officers have been convicted of serious criminal offences most of them involving sexual abuse of either women or children, up to and including rape.
One of the officers convicted was PC Ben McNish, a serving officer who was found guilty of filming women while they were in the shower. He worked in a unit investigating child sexual abuse.
Another, DI Neil Corbel, was a serving officer who was convicted of 19 offences of voyeurism against vulnerable women. He literally worked in the unit that is responsible for upholding professional standards in policing.
And let’s not forget PC Carrick, who appeared in court earlier this month charged with rape. He was from the same unit as Couzens.
Seriously tho wth is up with that unit.
It’s worth remembering too that these cases are simply the ones that got anywhere; there are likely to be many more. In my previous newsletter on this issue I pointed to a Freedom of Information request which found that in the four years to 2020, more than half of Met officers found guilty of sexual misconduct have kept their jobs. Meanwhile, as I wrote in my Telegraph column on this issue:
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.
The good news is that Priti Patel has left the door open for this inquiry to be made statutory in the future should it be needed. But switching halfway through will in itself cause delays – delays that are entirely unnecessary given it is clear now that a statutory inquiry is what is needed.
So let’s demand one, shall we? (Along with a few other things 😎)
GFP fixing it of the week
Since that was such a mammoth and disheartening gender data gap of the week, I thought we’d move straight into the GFPs who are fixing it. Be warned, this contains details of sexual violence.
First up, the Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ) an incredible organisation that is doing several important things when it comes to addressing institutional misogyny in the police.
First of all, they have written to Priti Patel asking her to expand the scope of the Wayne Couzens inquiry and make it statutory. All of us writing to our MPs and copying Priti Patel into our email will be supporting and adding our voices to their demands, so please do take a moment to do that ❤️
But just as institutional misogyny in the police is not a new problem, nor is this the first or only thing the CWJ has been doing. Last year they submitted a super-complaint to The Police Inspectorate highlighting systemic failures women are experiencing when reporting domestic abuse perpetrated by police officers.
we are concerned about a “locker-room culture” that trivialises violence against women, where loyalty towards fellow officers and concern about impact on their careers may be getting in the way of justice for women who report abuse
And I spoke this week to Freya, one of the women involved in CWJ’s super-complaint.
Freya was pregnant when her police officer husband physically abused her for the first time. He pushed her out in front of a car. Years of physical, emotional and financial abuse were to follow
He had a knife one day and that’s the only time I called the police. I dialled 999. He was really angry and cut the call off and said I was going to wreck his job. But the police came and they just told him to go for a walk. And next time he lost his temper to count to ten. […] they didn’t even speak to me or the children, you know, you’re just really totally on your own. 
Eventually, when Freya told her husband she was going to leave him, he raped her. Terrified that he would kill her, she sought help to leave, and reported the rape a few months later. That was in 1999. It is now 22 years later, and she has yet to receive justice. 
What she has received is intimidation.
He strangled a man in the toilets just for talking to me. Men I dated afterwards were stopped repeatedly by other police officers for things like trying to get them for speeding or checking their tyres or absolutely anything, and neither of them had ever been stopped before.
Freya also told me that one officer had told her “we will protect him.” Another told her “we cannot have you bring force into disrepute.” 
But despite what she has been through and continues to go through, Freya has not stopped fighting. She has set up Police Me Too, a website where other women who have experienced violence at the hands of police officers can anonymously submit their experiences. She’s gathered 46 reports in just three weeks.
The earliest report I’ve had so far, I think it’s 1968. And the most recent is a police officer woman who’s currently being abused by a police officer. So it’s spanning over 50 years and 24 forces.
Some of the entries on Police Me Too
Some of the entries on Police Me Too
When I ask her what she hopes to achieve through the website, she tells me she wants women who have felt too intimidated to report their abuse to feel heard, to feel validated, and to see that they’re not alone. 
I wanted to try and reach the women that cannot tell anybody because there will be loads. The intimidation and the fear is so acute when they’re a police officer, you can’t tell anyone. And so that’s why I wanted to give an anonymous space.
But most of all, Freya tells me, she wants “numbers.“
We want to be an army of women and girls saying, you can’t avoid this, look because we’ve got like 2000 women here. So it’s numbers, really. I’m trying to get numbers big enough, so they can’t be ignored. So it can’t be fobbed off.
Freya feels that we have an opportunity right now to try to do something about the police and "we really have to push, because I don’t think we’re going to get another one.”
So spread the word, GFPs. Let’s collect this data. Let’s make it impossible to ignore.
Women's experiences of abuse by police - Police Me Too
GFPs, I think it’s pretty clear what your homework is this week.
Write to your MP to demand that the Wayne Couzens inquiry is made fit for purpose, and share the letter as widely as possible – there are facebook and twitter sharing tools on the letter page.
And share Police Me Too. Get Freya her numbers. Make women’s voices too loud to ignore.
Poppy pic of the week
Yikes that was a heavy newsletter, sorry GFPs. Let me make up for it with many many pics of Poppy being COMPLETELY ADORABLE
“A STICK!!!”
“A STICK!!!”
"that's it for work today"
"that's it for work today"
“my vanquished foe”
“my vanquished foe”
I thought I’d finished with the Poppy pic extravaganza but then this morning the AB made American pancakes to prepare me for our upcoming visit (🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸) and I took this adorable picture of a Very Greedy Dog Looking Longingly At Bacon
Very Greedy Dog
Very Greedy Dog
GFPs, then we made a tactical error. I showed the AB the adorable pic and while we were laughing at it, Poppy saw her opportunity, and, well, Poppy took her her opportunity
Very Bad Dog
Very Bad Dog
By the time the AB had noticed she had already chowed down half a rasher.
Very Unrepentant 10/10 Would Do It Again Dog
Very Unrepentant 10/10 Would Do It Again Dog
That’s it my dear GFPs! I will miss you! Don’t forget to do your homework! xoxoxo
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Caroline Criado Perez

Keeping up with the gender data gap (and whatever else takes my fancy). Like the Kardashians, but with more feminist rage. Plus, toilet queue of the week.

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