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.
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.