Met Commissioner Cressida Dick Says She Is “So Sorry” To Family Of Sarah Everard
Dame Cressida Dick has admitted the "precious bond of trust" with police has been broken following the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer, as she faces calls for her resignation.
The head of the capital’s police force faces calls to resign over the case amid questions about whether warning signs over the character of a police officer who murdered 33-year-old Everard were missed.
"As Commissioner I will do everything in my power to ensure we learn any lessons,” Dick said on Thursday.
"I know that what happened to Sarah, and what has happened to other women in London and beyond in recent times, has raised important questions about women's safety.
She continued: "Here in the Met I commit to keep working with others to improve women's safety and reduce the fear of violence.
"There are no words that can express the fury and overwhelming sadness that we all feel about what happened to Sarah. I am so sorry."
Wayne Couzens, a former serving Met Police officer, was handed a whole life sentence on Thursday after the court heard he used his warrant card to falsely arrest and kidnap Everard in Clapham before murdering her.
Following the verdict, home secretary Priti Patel said there are "serious questions that need to be answered by the Metropolitan Police" about the Sarah Everard case, but rejected calls for the Commissioner's resignation.
"What we heard today is sickening to everyone and there are no words, no words at all, that can describe the appalling tragedy around Sarah Everard's murder.”
"All our thoughts and our sympathy are with her family and she is constantly in my thoughts as well.
"In terms of the monster that has been convicted today, it is right that he has been given a whole life tariff and with that he can never walk the streets of our country again.
"Alongside that of course, it is right that we constantly hold the police to account for what has happened."
Asked if Dame Cressida should step down, she said: "I think first of all there are important questions and questions that I've been asking and challenges, we have to be honest about this, in particular to this case, but also the conduct of that serving officer and conduct of policing more broadly.
"I will continue to work with the Metropolitan Police and the Commissioner to hold them to account as everybody would expect me to do, and I will continue to do that."
In a statement on Twitter, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there are "no words that adequately express the horror of Sarah’s murder".
"Like the rest of the country I have been sickened by what we have heard over the course of this sentencing and the pain and suffering endured by her family and friends is truly unimaginable," he wrote.
"Our police are there to protect us – and I know that officers will share in our shock and devastation at the total betrayal of this duty.
"People must be able to walk on our streets without fear of harm and with full confidence that the police are there to keep them safe."
He added that the government would do "everything possible to prevent these abhorrent crimes and keep our communities safe".
Earlier on Thursday, senior Labour MP Harriet Harman wrote to both Patel and Dame Cressida following the verdict calling for the Commissioner to step down.
She said “substantive and immediate change” in the London police force was needed as “many warning signs” about Everard’s killer were missed.
“Following the heartbreaking and horrifying killing of Sarah Everard by a serving Metropolitan Police officer, women's confidence in the police will have been shattered,” Harman said in her letter to Dame Cressida.
“Women need to be confident that the police are there to make them safe, not to put them at risk. Women need to be able to trust the police, not to fear them.”
She continued: “I have written to the Home Secretary to set out a number of actions which must be taken to rebuild the shattered confidence of women in the police service.”
“I think it is not possible for you to lead these necessary actions in the Metropolitan Police. I am sure that you must recognise this, and I ask you to resign to enable these changes to be taken through and for women to be able to have justified confidence in the police.”
Alongside calling for the Commissioners resignation, Harman also set out a number of steps Patel should consider to help rebuild trust in the police.
This included suspending all serving officers with outstanding allegations of violence against a woman, and ensuring this takes place in all such future cases immediately after it is reported.
She also called for dismissal from the police to be automatic following a conviction or admission of guilt.
Harman recommended all officers be scrutinised on their attitudes towards women at the recruitment stage, and for serving officers to be advised on how to identify violent tendencies toward women in their colleagues.
“Failing to report a fellow officer for an allegation of violence against women must be treated as gross misconduct leading to dismissal,” she added.
Labour MP Zarah Sultana has also written to the Prime Minister — alongside over 50 MPs and peers including Diane Abbott, Caroline Lucas, Dawn Butler and more — calling for major "economic and social change" to tackle rising violence against women.
"For far too long, political discourse has skirted around the issue of male violence against women — preferring to minimise the scale of abuse occuring in our communities. This cannot go on," the letter read.
Measures backed by the signatories include improving sex education in schools, introducing new reporting mechanisms in schools and workplaces, reversing cuts to women's services and funding victim-centred services.
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