Police advise women: to stay safe, resist arrest

About 6 months ago, a woman was murdered by a UK serving police officer. He approached Sara Everard as she was walking home, introduced himself as an off-duty officer, showed a warrant card, arrested her, hand-cuffed her and put her in his car. It is perfectly legal for an off-duty officer to do all of these things.

Then he [content warning: severe violence against women]

abducted her, raped her, strangled her to death, drove her body to the woods and set fire to it

This is not a pitting of the killer.

This is a pitting of the UK police, whose response to this has been pig-headed, witless, self-serving, farcical, victim-blaming, and complacent to the point of delusion.

This is what we know about how his colleagues perceived and treated the killer:

  • His nickname at one job was “the rapist”
  • He shared violent pornography with colleagues on social media
  • Well-evidenced allegations against him of “minor” sex crimes such as indecent exposure were ignored - one just a few days before he killed.
  • Despite all the above, he passed not just the normal vetting of officers but the higher level vetting required to become a member of the diplomatic protection squad

You might take from this that something is badly wrong with the culture here - not because a killer happened to be a police officer, but because his colleagues clearly identified that he had severely disturbing attitudes to women which he was prepared to act on and either a) did nothing, b) joined in or c) conspired to protect him from complaints.

A lot of people - chiefly women - have drawn that exact conclusion. They’ve also noted that the killer didn’t just happen to be a police officer - he used his legal powers and training as an officer to facilitate his killing. It is perfectly legal for an off-duty officer to make an arrest if he shows his warrant card. The power of the state, which had been granted in trust, was used to kill. Trust being the word.

So the bad news for the police is: trust is at an all time low. The good news is that the killer was arrested the day after the murder and pled guilty in court months ago. They have known exactly what information was going to come out and the effect it would have public perceptions of the police; they have also had time to prepare a strategy to show how they can rebuild that trust.

This is the best they could do:

If … you feel in real and imminent danger and you do not believe the officer is who they say they are, for whatever reason, then I would say you must seek assistance - shouting out to a passer-by, running into a house, knocking on a door, waving a bus down or if you are in the position to do so calling 999.

Run away from a police officer effecting an arrest? Wave down a fucking bus?*

The police are telling people to run away from the police. By the time this happens, people need to be resigning. Other people need sacked. This is an institution that is plainly incapable of carrying out its own desperately needed reform.

As for this bit: "If … you feel in real and imminent danger and you do not believe the officer is who they say they are
Never forget: the killer was a serving officer He wasn’t faking anything. He was exactly who he said he was. Had his victim somehow checked, she would have been told that he was legit and she should comply with her arrest. (And what exactly do we think is going to happen when a passing bus driver is confronted by a scared woman and a credentialed cop. What the fuck?)

This OP could get very long with all the examples of desperate, fuck-witted institutional self-preservation that we’ve been graced with today but let’s finish with this piece of victim blaming from an elected police commissioner:

“So women, first of all, need to be streetwise about when they can be arrested and when they can’t be arrested. She should never have been arrested and submitted to that,” he said.

“Perhaps women need to consider in terms of the legal process, to just learn a bit about that legal process”.

These people will say anything at all, however offensive or stupid, rather than

“This is our fault. We have failed the public trust; we have failed our sworn duty. We need root and branch reform. It will have to come from outside because we have shown ourselves incapable of upholding standards.” even though this is self-evidently true.

Fuck. Them. All.

People are definitely calling for the the commissioner to resign, or at least be let go when her contract ends next year:

HEre, from the police statement linked above, is their view on the steps to take:

This is the most horrific of crimes, but we recognise this is part of a much bigger and troubling picture.

There have been other horrific murders of women in public spaces, including the killings of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, and very recently of Sabina Nessa.

All of these bring into sharp focus our urgent duty to do more to protect women and girls.

First and foremost, here are some of the measures we have introduced:

• We will soon publish a new strategy for tackling violence against women and girls. This will outline how we will prioritise action against sexual and violent predatory offenders.

• We have established specialist Predatory Offender Units and since last November they have arrested more than 2,000 suspects for domestic abuse, sex offences and for child abuse.

• The Met is growing and we are deploying 650 new officers into busy public places, including those where women and girls often lack confidence that they are safe.

• We are also stepping up reassurance patrols and providing an increased police presence where it is most needed by identifying key “hotspot” locations for offences of violence and harassment. We are allocating officers solely for patrol in those areas.

• Understanding the concerns of women in London is really important to us and we are undertaking a range of activity so we can better listen and respond.

  1. The statement references the murders of sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry. It doesn’t reference the fact that two officers posed with their bodies for photographs which were circulated on social media. This is because…
  2. The statement makes no reference to even the thought of setting up an inquiry into the culture and practices that would let an obvious and noted danger to woman like the killer remain a cop, or encourage officers to pose with women’s corpses for the amusement of their colleagues. No part of the plan to move forward includes the police doing anything different. Because first they’d have to admit they were capable of being wrong.
  3. “Reassurance patrols” is a bad joke. The point we are at now is: women are not reassured by police, they are threatened by them. The police know this, hence their advice to women to run away from police officers they are not sure about.

Lots of people are calling for Dick’s resignation. But that’s because it hasn’t happened yet, and clearly should have. She may eventually go when forced by popular pressure but those are not the circumstances that lead to reform. She should have resigned by now, or been sacked for refusing to resign.

And if a woman runs away from the police, but then is caught by a not-killer cop, will she then be charged with resisting arrest?

That’s very much the question, isn’t it?

Subsidiary questions:
What if she’s a woman of colour?
What if she’s homeless, a drug user, a sex-worker or in some other way invisible to “decent” society?
What if she has a criminal record?

(For reasons of space I skipped the bit in the guidance about how, before running away, women should demand proof of the cop’s authority and legitimacy, but boy I bet that would go well for everyone who tried it.)

Telling people to resist arrest is laughably bad advice especially coming from law enforcement themselves. At least here in the United States, it’s been drilled into our heads that resisting the police is just going to exacerbate the situation. Even if I know an officer is illegally searching my car or is arresting me for something that isn’t a crime, it’s generally not a good idea to flee or to physically resist as that might result in both physical harm to myself as well as being charged with a more serious crime. We’re generally advised to wait and it out and have our day in court but that’s terrible advice when faced with an officer trying to assault or murder you.

I did not mean to post that twice.

Well, in US, it means you get shot.

It’s not been pleasant as a woman, a mother of a 23-year-old who wants to socialise, and a GF of a woman who doesn’t live at the same house. I bought us all new rape alarms a few months ago - we all had them before but during lockdown we weren’t going out and lost them, and, also, for a few years it did actually feel a little safer than it does now - I think it actually was safer, statistically, too.

We share rides when taking taxis, obviously. But the costs add up. And sometimes from my GF’s place I get drivers pretending they’ve turned up, and they haven’t. That’s inconvenient in terms of having to argue for the fees back, but also means I’m left standing on the street in the dark (my place is a house so you leave when they arrive).

So my GF comes down to wait with me, and then the driver wants to park somewhere convenient for them, which means she has to leave me walking round a dark corner, and she walks back off down a dark corner. Thanks, cabbie.

Statistically, I know we’re all unlikely to be raped or killed by a complete stranger. That’s why we still live our lives. But it does happen - women are raped and killed by strangers.

I also think that, perhaps, not going out for a few months made us unaccustomed to the way men harass women on a daily basis. For the first few months I was seeing my GF, I either walked along very brightly lit streets in daylight, or got a taxi, because taxis were covid-safe.

Going out in public again has not been that great. I think it’s probably just that it became part of the background before, and now it’s new for the first time ever; even as a young woman, it was gradual.

If you’ve gone nearly a year without men doing that thing of sidling up to you at a bus stop at 10pm, while you’re wearing headphones and reading a book, and they’re trying to catch your eye, coming to sit next to you on the seat instead of staying at the end… There is no innocent explanation for that. None. Trying to “chat you up” is not an innocent explanation despite what some men on here would probably try to claim. It’s aggressive.

And previously that was just the way it was, it was just life. Now I recognise it for what it is, and it’s not the world teenage me was hoping to see in 2021.

I’d never do that to a woman I didn’t know because I’d be worried that she’d think I was a creep. That behavior seems hard to defend.

I’ve seen the exact same action, and very similar actions, defended many times on here. Every time it’s been argued against by more people than were defending it, which is good, but the people defending the action weren’t trolls.

I’ve also had to step aside from conversations in real life where men were arguing that they should be allowed to do exactly what I was describing and that it isn’t aggressive or anything to fear.

Yes, if I sense a man walking behind me, and keeping pace with me, I will cross the road and change my route. No, that is not the same as misandry except in the strictest meaning of the term. Yes, I do feel sad for the men who just want to walk down the road, and have no desire to attack women and don’t want to be grouped in with them; I would advise them to slow their steps a little, be aware that they’re a threat. But I will still cross the road because I don’t know it’s a nice man following me.

Some men really just do not get it. And they’re not even, necessarily, the ones who are about to take the next step and attack a woman, they might genuinely abhor the idea - but they make it easier for others to take that step.

. . . which may still leave you with a torn-apart trashed car, for which you will have no recourse even in court.

When I was a teenager, I lived in a slightly rough Scottish town. I was slightly built and an easy target so I knew the rules - there are some pubs you don’t walk past ever, there are some shortcuts you don’t take after dark, keep your eyes down when you pass noisy groups of young men. I remember the feeling of fear if a bigger male were walking behind me on a dark night. I lived in what I believe ecologists call “a landscape of fear”.

Thing is, I grew out of that. I got mildly bigger; I learned how to carry myself; mostly, I had the choice to move to places where “getting into fights” wasn’t a popular entertainment option, and I took it. Thinking back, the last time I felt nervous about being out at night was over 20 years ago.

As posts like yours show, women don’t have that choice. The landscape is always a landscape of fear. And that’s partly due to the actual predators, but it’s also due to the men who think it’s their natural right to encroach on boundaries.

@Stanislaus, thanks for starting this thread. I couldn’t believe this story either!

If a lone officer carefully concealed his psychopathic tendencies and then used his authority to murder someone, then I wouldn’t necessarily blame the police force. But in this case, as you note, the officer in question was already known to be committing sex crimes. The “thin blue line” mentality ensured that his fellow police officers protected him, at the expense of public safety and of one young woman’s life. Who knows how many other loose cannons are out there who are not being held accountable?

Society is meant to make at least some effort to address the fact that women can’t feel safe in public. One of the major ways we do that is by having a police force sworn to uphold the law and maintain order.

That’s increasingly sounding like a joke.

Since I started this thread about the Met’s gross failure to address its own problems, we have learned:

One of the killer’s colleague’s in the diplomatic protection squad has been arrested for rape
Two officers who were sharing “disturbing” material on WhatsApp with the killer are under investigation - and still in work
In the last year, 160 Met officers have been accused of some form of sexual harassment, assault or other sexual misconduct. Only 4 have been suspended from duty.

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.

A senior female police officer had a job offer withdrawn after she officially complained about a misogynistic WhatsApp group (not the same one the killer used, a different one).
A culture of isolating whistleblowers and leaving them unsupported in dangerous situations.

As @ChasSudan says, it’s a culture of protecting officers who are a threat to women, and worse: it’s seems all too easy for these officers to find like-minded colleagues, spread their poison and drive out the mainly female officers who try to take a stand against them.

In the light of that, it’s no surprise that Boris Johnson has rejected calls for a public enquiry on the grounds that “the police are mostly trustworthy” and that more recruits nowadays are women. Because of course it falls to women to sort men’s shit out.

Which is marginally better than a torn-apart trashed car, a concussion, broken wrist and a charge of “resisting”.

I wanted to point out some of the absurdity of “wave down a bus at night” as positive advice to give. Then I found out Rachel Parris had already done all the work for me:

Flag down a bus! #maleviolence pic.twitter.com/vzk3KVhvZP

— Rachel Parris (@rachelparris) October 1, 2021

That’s not even the biggest problem with that advice - in London, where this happened, you can’t flag down a bus. Might as well advise women to flag down a submarine.

In other developments, the redheaded woman who was held down on the floor by multiple police officers at the Sarah Everard vigil has had loads of cops try to contact her on Tindr.

Oh and for those outside the UK, yes, several women were arrested at the peaceful vigil for Sarah Everard in London this March. Supposedly it was for breaching covid guidelines, but many other similar vigils and protests were allowed to go ahead (one happened the same weekend), and this one had not been banned.

Nobody disagrees that it was peaceful, quiet, and mournful until the cops turned up (the Duchess of Cambridge went along). The cops claim that three cops were shoved and one wing mirror of a police car was bent (it turns out it was men doing all four of those horribly extreme actions, but only women were arrested). Wow, what a wild riot.

Cops assaulting women for very peacefully commemorating the murder of a woman by a cop is not a good look.

This is unbelievably creepy targeted harassment and everyone involved needs to be fired.