LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said he had confidence in the police and London’s Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick as fury grew over the murder of a woman by a policeman.
Wayne Couzens, 48, used his position as a police officer to stop Sarah Everard before abducting, raping and murdering her. He was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday.
Dick has faced criticism for her handling and response to the case, with some lawmakers calling for her to resign.
“I hope to goodness that it has not shaken public trust in those hundreds of thousands of police officers around the country… who do, overwhelmingly, a fantastic job,” Johnson said. Asked if he was standing by Commissioner Dick, he said “yes, absolutely”.
“I think it’s very important that people should have confidence in policing and what the police do, and I do, let me stress that.”
Johnson said there was “disturbing stuff” about allegations of previous misconduct by Couzens that needed investigating, as well as his participation in WhatsApp groups with colleagues which is being probed.
“We also need to get to the bottom of the WhatsApp groups where messages were being exchanged between police officers. I am concerned,” he said.
Many women have shared their own harrowing experiences in dealing with male policemen, and expressed anger at the police for continuing to put the onus on women to protect themselves from officers.
One police boss told BBC radio that women should be “streetwise” and not submit to unjustified arrest, while Met Police advice said that women should wave a bus down if they “do not believe the officer is who they say they are”.
“Telling women to question an officer or shout down a bus is one small step away from blaming a woman for failing to spot danger or get help if and when they get attacked by a police officer,” deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said on Twitter.
“It’s simple. Stop expecting bus drivers to police the police and start protecting women.”
(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by James Davey)