Police boss on women's safety plan and male officers 'feeling bruised'
- Credit: Michael Cox
The interim boss of the Met Police in Havering, Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham has said male officers are feeling "battered and bruised" in the wake of Sarah Everard's murder.
Det Ch Supt Paul Trevers was speaking to this paper as Commissioner Cressida Dick released the force's action plan for tackling violence against women and girls.
Sarah was kidnapped under the guise of an arrest by Met officer Wayne Couzens before being raped and murdered earlier this year.
A separate case has seen serving East Area officer, PC Adam Zaman, 28, charged with rape relating to an alleged incident in the City of London last month.
Det Ch Supt Trevers, who has been in post for nine weeks, said the community is "really concerned".
"There's definitely been a hit on our trust and confidence in the community and we understand that.
"We police by consent but there's never a time more relevant where we've got to be seen to be policing for the communities.
"What we don't want is people not calling 999. We don't want females stopped in the street thinking 'is this officer going to rape and kill me?'"
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The East Area's leading officer said there has also been a drop in trust and confidence within staff.
"We're doing internal staff briefings because male colleagues in particular are feeling a bit battered and bruised because their fear is everybody is looking in thinking every male copper is going to do 'a, b, c'.
"So we're having to try and reassure that is not the case."
The Met's action plan on violence against women and girls aims to increase the number of perpetrators brought to justice, increase women's confidence in police and see a rise in reporting to police but a decrease in the number of offences.
Town centre teams are being launched in Barking next month and Ilford in January; they will prioritise tackling all violence and specifically incidents against women and girls, Det Ch Supt Trevers said.
The Met has also pledged to increase engagement with women and girls "to better understand their concerns", according to the action plan.
Walk and talk sessions will be introduced, where female officers walk the streets with women from the community and listen to their experiences and safety concerns.
Another measure, Safe Connection, has already been introduced - this sees control rooms verify the identity of a lone plain-clothed male police officer if they have stopped a lone woman.
"Ordinarily it's quite rare for a lone male officer in plain clothes to be out on patrol and even more rare for a lone male officer to stop a lone female," Det Ch Supt Trevers explained.
"So we don't think the occurrences will be that many but when it does happen, it's absolutely crucial.
"I know if it was my wife stopped by a lone police officer, I know she would be absolutely petrified and there is a woman who trusts me as a police officer.
"For a member of the public who has no engagement with police officers, it's probably pretty frightening."
A survey earlier this year found more than 1,800 Redbridge women reported incidents of street harassment and assault.
Another of the Met's planned measures is a Street Safe app, where people can anonymously tap on a location where they feel unsafe.
Det Ch Supt Trevers believes collaborative working with partners will be key to implementing changes in places that are flagged up.
"If we get a growing number of hits in a particular road, we can say as a partnership: 'Can we improve the street lighting, can we put enhanced patrols out, can we cut back hedges which encroach on the pavement?'"
Improving recruitment and retention of women is also part of the plan.
When asked if lost confidence in the force would hinder recruitment, Det Ch Supt Trevers said: "I don't think it will. It's still a brilliant job.
"I had the privilege of meeting 22 brand new probationers and I had to hand them their warrant cards for the first time.
"If we attract the right people, then most of the people joining us will be determined to prove the negativity wrong, which is what we want."