Sarah Everard

“Dial 999” If You’re “Really Concerned” about a Police Officer, Says Former Scotland Yard Senior Officer

Prompted by the sentencing of Wayne Couzens for kidnapping, raping and murdering Sarah Everard in a case that has raised awareness about the level of confusion over the powers handed to the police by ’emergency’ coronavirus legislation, Scotland Yard has issued advice for those approached by an undercover officer. MailOnline has the story.

Scotland Yard said in a statement that it is “unusual for a single plain clothes police officer to engage with anyone in London”, although it can happen.

They said that an lone officer could be seeking to arrest you, but if they do then you should “expect to see other officers arrive shortly afterwards”.

As of yesterday the Metropolitan Police announced they would not deploy plain clothes officers on their own.

Deputy Commissioner Sir Stephen House said: “We will not operate plain clothes officers on their own. If we do use them, they will be in pairs.”

However he said there will be “occasions” where that is not possible – such as when a pair of officers are split up – and noted that off-duty officers [will] not [be] in uniform. …

You would expect a lone police officer who is arresting you to soon be joined by backup, although it is possible that this might not happen and you are still alone.

Scotland Yard said in this case that it was “entirely reasonable for you to seek further reassurance of that officer’s identity and intentions”.

The Met said it advises people to “ask some very searching questions of that officer”, including:

~ “Where are your colleagues?”

~ “Where have you come from?”

~ “Why are you here?”

~ “Exactly why are you stopping or talking to me?”

Former Scotland Yard Senior Officer Parm Sandhu told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that there were things people could do if they were concerned about an arrest.

She said that people should not get into the vehicle unless it’s a marked police vehicle and ask to see the radio, or ask the arresting officer to call their colleagues and make sure they are on duty. She added: “If you’re really concerned dial 999.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Peter Hitchens asks how does “such a person become a police officer and *remain[ed]* one” in the first place.

Ministers Were Warned About the Dangers of the “Draconian” Coronavirus Act in the Same Month Wayne Couzens Abused Covid Rules To Kidnap Sarah Everard

Ministers can’t have been surprised by reports that Wayne Couzens may have abused Covid rules when he kidnapped Sarah Everard – they were urged in the same month to “roll back the extensive powers unwisely handed to the state” and to the police. The Telegraph has the story.

Mark Harper, the Chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, said the Coronavirus Act, contained “some of the most draconian detention powers in modern British legal history, giving the police and other officials the power to detain us, potentially indefinitely”.

The concerns were not just that the laws gave officers powers to intervene in everyday activities like leaving home, going shopping or visiting friends but also that there was confusion among the public and even police about what people could and could not do.

It was this that Couzens, 48, apparently exploited when he used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant card and handcuffs to snatch Ms. Everard as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3rd.

He had worked with other officers on Covid patrols to enforce the regulations and, according to the prosecution, he was “therefore aware of the regulations and what language to use to those who may have breached them”.

“The fact she [Sarah Everard] had been to a friend’s house for dinner at the height of the 2021 lockdown made her more vulnerable to and/or more likely to submit to an accusation that she had acted in breach of the Covid regulations in some way, by going to a friend’s home that evening.”

When Ms. Everard set off for home, the U.K. was still in its third national lockdown, which required people to remain at home and only leave for a narrow set of reasons such as exercising once a day.

Throughout the lockdown, police chiefs had been sensitive to the potential of their new powers to breach the central tenet of British policing that it is based on the common consent of the public, as opposed to the power of the state.

“We don’t want to have a society when you step out the door there is a cop saying: ‘Where are you going?’” said Stephen White, then Police and Crime Commissioner for Durham.

Worth reading in full.