(LONDON) MET Press Statement & Response Strategy Report: On issues and safeguarding issues raised by crimes of Wayne Couzens #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Oct.01: Commissioner Cressida Dick said: “Sarah’s kidnap, rape and murder was one of the most dreadful events in the 190-year-history of the Metropolitan Police Service.

#AceDailyNews reports on MET Commissioner’s statement after Wayne Couzens given whole-life term for murder of Sarah Everard together with their response on ‘safeguarding’ in the future ….

“This hearing has revealed the full brutality of this man’s crimes against Sarah.

“I am absolutely horrified that this man used his position of trust to deceive and coerce Sarah, and I know you all are too. His actions were a gross betrayal of everything policing stands for. 

“What he did was unthinkable and appalling. He showed himself to be the coward he is through his lies and seeking to minimise his true responsibility for his crimes.

“Police officers are here to protect people, to be trustworthy, courageous and compassionate. His every action is the exact opposite of that.

“As the judge said, he has eroded the confidence that the public are entitled to have in the police. It is critical that every subject in this country can trust police officers when they encounter them.

Metropolitan Police: Our response to issues raised by the crimes of Wayne Couzens

Wayne Couzens has been sentenced to a whole-life term for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard.

The full horrific details of his crimes are deeply concerning and raise entirely legitimate questions.

This is the most horrific of crimes, but we recognise this is part of a much bigger and troubling picture.

There have been other horrific murders of women in public spaces, including the killings of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, and very recently of Sabina Nessa.

All of these bring into sharp focus our urgent duty to do more to protect women and girls.    

First and foremost, here are some of the measures we have introduced:  

• We will soon publish a new strategy for tackling violence against women and girls. This will outline how we will prioritise action against sexual and violent predatory offenders.    

• We have established specialist Predatory Offender Units and since last November they have arrested more than 2,000 suspects for domestic abuse, sex offences and for child abuse.    

• The Met is growing and we are deploying 650 new officers into busy public places, including those where women and girls often lack confidence that they are safe.    

• We are also stepping up reassurance patrols and providing an increased police presence where it is most needed by identifying key “hotspot” locations for offences of violence and harassment. We are allocating officers solely for patrol in those areas.    

• Understanding the concerns of women in London is really important to us and we are undertaking a range of activity so we can better listen and respond.  

We expect the best of our officers and when they fall below our standards they undermine the public’s trust in us.  
  
Couzens’ crimes are the most extreme example of this betrayal. They have been shattering for everybody and of course people have questions about the integrity of officers.  

We only want the best of the best in the Met and we will always act when our employees fall below the standards we and the public expect and erode the trust we depend upon.  
  
All officers must and will now expect to work harder to gain the confidence of the public and be understanding and tolerant of reasonable questioning of their actions and identity as they go about their duty to protect Londoners.  

Background on Wayne Couzens

Wayne Couzens transferred into the Met from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) in September 2018. His first posting was to South Area, serving initially in a Safer Neighbourhood Team, before joining a response team covering the Bromley area in February 2019. 

He then moved to the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command in February 2020 where his primary role was to patrol diplomatic premises, mainly embassies. 

Couzens stopped being paid as a police officer immediately following his guilty pleas. This was as soon as legally possible. The Met held an accelerated misconduct hearing following his guilty plea. He was dismissed on 16 July.

Vetting
  
Couzens was a serving and vetted police officer when he joined the Met. He had no criminal convictions or cautions and he was not subject to any misconduct proceedings during his time at the Met. 

We are not aware of any other concerns raised by his colleagues, or anyone else, regarding his behaviour prior to him joining the Met or since. 

Following his arrest, as the public would expect, we reviewed his vetting. This review confirmed he passed vetting processes.    

However, it also found one of a range of checks may not have been undertaken correctly.  

This check related to information regarding a vehicle which was registered to Couzens and that was linked to an allegation of indecent exposure in Kent in 2015.  
  
Kent Police investigated this allegation and decided to take no further action. Our review found that the record of this allegation and outcome may not have been found during the vetting checks.  
  
However, the review we conducted found that despite this there was no information available to the Met at the time that would have changed the vetting decision. 

We continue to build up a picture of Couzens’ career and wider activities. We would like to appeal for anyone who has information of concern about Couzens - whether police colleagues or members of the public – to contact us directly.  
  
We want the public to have confidence in our vetting and are taking extra measures to ensure our processes are the best they can be and address any potential weaknesses.  
  
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) is currently conducting an inspection of the Met . We have formally written to the Inspectorate and asked that their work in this, and in the annual all-force police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy inspection, pays particular attention to our vetting practices.  

Vetting is a snapshot in time and unfortunately, can never 100% guarantee an individual’s integrity.  

Vetting is one of a number of activities that we undertake to preserve the integrity of our organisation and it is only as good as the day on which it is carried out.   
  
Therefore we re-vet officers periodically. We have Right Line, a confidential number which allows officers and staff to anonymously report wrongdoing. We have our dedicated Directorate of Professional Standards who are committed to proactively rooting out officers who do not meet our standards and let the public and the police down. Not only that but we have internal and external inspections to scrutinise our processes.  

Uniform and police equipment  

Couzens betrayed Sarah and all of us when he used his knowledge, status and equipment to deceive and abduct Sarah and we do not understate the impact this has had on public confidence.   
  
The fact that he used equipment given to him by the Met is reprehensible and it compounds the dreadful nature of his crimes.   

Nevertheless, it has to be the case that officers are able, on occasion, to take some or all of their equipment with them, between places of duty and where needed, travelling to and from work. They do not require explicit permission. It is a personal decision that has to be done for legitimate reasons and that they will have to justify if challenged.  

Couzens used his warrant card as part of his deception to identify himself as a police officer. Every officer carries a warrant card.   
  
Officers must only use their warrant cards for specific purposes – identification or to demonstrate they are acting as a police officer.  

Met officers also take an oath where they promise to be a police officer around the clock and are expected to intervene even if off duty if they see someone committing an offence or there is another need to protect the public.  In these circumstances their warrant card helps them identify themselves and demonstrate they are acting as an officer.   

Indecent Exposure  

The Met received an allegation of indecent exposure some 72 hours before Sarah was abducted. That crime was allocated for investigation but by the time of Sarah’s abduction it was not concluded.  
  
The progress of that investigation was voluntarily referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct and is subject to an investigation by them. It also remains the subject of a live criminal inquiry. 

It is important for us to re-evaluate our approach to indecent exposure. This is part of our re-evaluation of our strategy for tackling violence against women and girls.  
  
We are reviewing our crime screening process in respect of indecent exposure. We want to better understand the information we have as part of our approach to the identification and policing of crime hotspots.    

We believe this is an under-reported crime.  
  
We do not underestimate how difficult it can be for people to talk about these offences but we would urge anyone who is the victim of this sort of offending to report it to us quickly so we can respond.  

We are also focused on improving detections both for indecent exposure but for a broader range of offences committed mainly against women.    

What to do if you have concerns an officer is threat to you / How do you prove an officer is genuine?

We completely hear the legitimate concerns being raised and we know women are worried. All our officers are concerned about the impact of these horrific crimes on trust in the police and we want to do all we can to rebuild that trust. 

It is unusual for a single plain clothes police officer to engage with anyone in London. If that does happen, and it may do for various reasons, in instances where the officer is seeking to arrest you, you should then expect to see other officers arrive shortly afterwards.

However, if that doesn’t happen and you do find yourself in an interaction with a sole police officer and you are on your own, it is entirely reasonable for you to seek further reassurance of that officer’s identity and intentions. 

Our advice is to ask some very searching questions of that officer:

  • Where are your colleagues? 
  • Where have you come from? 
  • Why are you here? 
  • Exactly why are you stopping or talking to me? 

Try to seek some independent verification of what they say, if they have a radio ask to hear the voice of the operator, even ask to speak through the radio to the operator to say who you are and for them to verify you are with a genuine officer, acting legitimately. 

All officers will, of course, know about this case and will be expecting in an interaction like that – rare as it may be – that members of the public may be understandably concerned and more distrusting than they previously would have been, and should and will expect to be asked more questions. 

If after all of that 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.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Oct.01: 2021:

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(LONDON) Press Release Statement Report: Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland Announces Sweeping reforms to increase the number of rape cases reaching court while bolstering support for victims have been unveiled on Friday #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – June.19: Crucially, it aims to return the volumes of cases being referred by the police, charged by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and going to court, to at least 2016 levels – when the decline in prosecutions began to appear. Each part of the criminal justice system will also be held to better account, with performance scorecards – on key metrics such as timeliness and victim engagement – being published every 6 months for the first time.

GOVUK Report: Response to rape overhauled on Friday 18 June 2021) The ambitious plans include clear actions for the police, prosecutors and courts – to roll out a new approach to investigations, reduce the number of victims withdrawing from the process, increase the volumes of trials being heard, protect the public and put more rapists behind bars.

  • Action Plan to increase the number of rape cases reaching court
  • new approach to investigations places greater emphasis on suspect behaviour
  • performance of entire criminal justice system to be rated regularly
  • no victim to be left without a phone for more than 24 hours

The Action Plan follows an end-to-end review by the government into how the criminal justice system handles rape. It comes after charges, prosecutions and convictions for rape fell over the last 5 years. Sadly, one in 2 victims who report being raped also withdraw from the investigation.

Ministers have today promised to do everything possible to reverse these worrying trends and build back confidence in the system – pledging to go even further if improvements are not seen.

Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland QC MP said:

Too many victims of rape and sexual violence have been denied the justice they deserve as a result of systemic failings.

We are deeply sorry for this and will not rest until real improvements are made – from transforming the support given to victims, to ensuring cases are investigated fully and prosecuted robustly.

Alongside new laws we have introduced in Parliament to make sure rapists spend longer behind bars, our action plan will drive the wholesale change needed to tackle this horrific crime and restore faith in the criminal justice system.

The Action Plan has been shaped with the help of Emily Hunt who was appointed as an independent advisor by government to ensure that there was a strong advocate for victims at the centre of the rape review.

Emily Hunt, victim and independent advisor the End-to-End Rape Review said:

I am really proud to have made a difference by bringing my own experience to the Review.

We can and must do better for rape victims. We must investigate suspects rather than doubting victims and we need to support victims through every stage of the criminal justice system. Because everyone who reports this crime is not just doing so to secure justice for themselves but to protect all of us.

The review revealed wide-ranging reasons behind the fall in cases reaching court, including a strained relationship between different parts of the system, delays in the investigation process, a lack of specialist and consistent support for victims, and an increase in invasive requests for their personal data. The Action Plan seeks to directly address these issues and increase the number of cases getting to court, without compromising defendants’ right to a fair trial.

It includes plans for better data extraction technology to reduce the time that victims are without their phones – with an aim to have devices returned by police within 24 hours. At present, this process can take months, causing distress for victims who are left phoneless at a time when they most need support from friends and family. The money will include funding for more ‘cyber vans’ that allow devices to be analysed without the need to send them to a laboratory which can add to delays – with ‘swap-out’ phones given to victims when it is not possible to return a phone within 24 hours. In addition, new guidance for the police will ensure any request for information is necessary and proportionate to the investigation, with victims often citing handing over their personal data as a reason why they may not pursue their case.

Additionally, a new approach to investigations will be rolled out to more police forces across the country – one that places greater emphasis on understanding a suspect’s behaviour rather than placing undue focus on a victim’s credibility. Pioneered by Avon and Somerset police, it also partners officers with academics to scrutinise decisions and ensure all reasonable lines of inquiry are explored.  Understanding the victims’ experience is also paramount, with investigators working closely with Independent Sexual Violence Advisers.

Meanwhile, more rape victims will be spared the trauma of needing to attend a trial by having their cross-examination video-recorded earlier in the process away from the courtroom. A pilot of this provision will be trialled at a further three Crown courts, with government working closely with the judiciary to consider a wider subsequent rollout. The measure is already available in all Crown courts for vulnerable victims and witnesses, including children.

Minister for Crime and Policing, Kit Malthouse MP said:

We’ve taken a hard and honest look at how the entire criminal justice system deals with rape and in too many instances it simply has not been good enough.

That is why today we are seeking robust action from the police, CPS and courts to better support victims and make sure more perpetrators answer for their crimes.

Criminal justice agencies will also be more accountable than ever with greater scrutiny of decisions and we will monitor progress closely.

The plan details specific actions for each part of the criminal justice system. Key measures include:

  • Returning volumes of rape cases going through the courts to at least 2016 levels by the end of this Parliament – meaning over a thousand more victims will see their cases proceed.
  • Publishing regular scorecards including metrics on timeliness, quality of cases and victim engagement to show how the whole criminal justice system is performing – providing transparency and accountability for the first time with an inaugural scorecard due to be published by December.
  • Better data extraction technology – enabling up to 10,000 devices each year to be processed at the earliest stages of an investigation.
  • Working with the mobile phone industry to support police efforts in providing ‘swap out’ phones for victims where it is not possible to return a phone within 24 hours.
  • Launching new ‘Pathfinder Projects’ across four more police forces which allow external scrutiny of police decisions, a more active focus on perpetrators’ offending patterns and drive victim confidence in police and CPS.
  • Establishing a culture of more effective joint working between police and CPS so that they can better support victims and build better cases – driving more guilty pleas as defendants realise that conviction is likely.
  • The Law Commission will also begin a review into ‘rape myths’ to ensure courts are tackling them at every opportunity while also examining the use of a victims’ sexual history as evidence and whether expert evidence can be used in court to counter misconceptions about rape.
  • Pre-recorded cross-examination – which allows victims to provide evidence on video prior to a trial – will be piloted in a further three crown courts with a wider national rollout considered following evaluation of the pilots.
  • A ministerial-led criminal justice taskforce has been set up to drive forward these actions. The taskforce will be advised by a Ministerial chaired expert group including representatives from the criminal justice system who will be able to provide valued external scrutiny to, and support of, the implementation of our actions.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said:

Rape and sexual violence are horrific crimes that devastate lives. Tragically, brave victims who have come forward to report are too often let down by the criminal justice system.

This must change immediately. While work is already underway to address these unacceptable issues, I am calling on the police to urgently consider what more they can do to strengthen their response.

The police must give victims the support and treatment they deserve whilst ensuring that the vile perpetrators face justice.

The Attorney General, the rt. Hon Michael Ellis QC MP said:

This landmark publication has made one thing clear – that we must all do better to improve the system’s approach to securing justice for victims of rape and sexual offences.

At the heart of this is a collaborative approach, from the moment a complaint is made, through to the investigation and prosecution and post-trial. We must ensure that victims are supported every step of the way.

Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill QC said:

Rape is a truly devastating and life changing crime. Our prosecutors see the trauma and lasting impact on victims every day.

The stark drop in the number of cases that have gone before a jury in recent years means too few victims are seeing justice and reversing that is an absolute priority for the CPS.

This review presents an unprecedented opportunity across the whole criminal justice system, and I am determined to lead meaningful and lasting change in every aspect of how these cases are handled, in partnership with the police and the courts.

Today’s announcement follows extensive government action in recent years to protect women and girls from violence. It comes as more than £176 million has been invested into victim services, funding more specialist help such as rape support centres. This includes £27 million to recruit more Independent Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse advisors who provide advice and support for victims, acting as the link between police, support services and criminal justice agencies. This investment means there is an ISVA support for every victim that wants one.

Meanwhile, a further £2 million has been made available for smaller specialist organisations helping ethnic minority, LGBT or disabled victims with male-specific services benefiting from a 60 per cent funding increase this year.

In addition, the landmark Domestic Abuse Act (2021), introduced a swathe of measures to boost protections for survivors, while clamping down on perpetrators. The government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will also see rapists face longer jail terms.

Meanwhile, the courts continue to prioritise urgent cases where there is a risk to the public, such as sexual violence.  This is alongside the hundreds of millions the government is investing to help courts recover from the pandemic, deliver swifter justice and support victims.

Addtional Notes:

  • The government’s End-to-End Rape Review can be found on GOV,UK
  • Alongside this Review, the government is publishing a Social Research report which outlines the underlying primary research in more detail and can be found on GOV.UK.

What government will do:

  • Ambition to return volumes of rape cases being referred by police, charged and going to court back to 2016 levels by the end of the Parliament.
  • Publish regular scorecards including metrics on timeliness, quality of cases and victim engagement to show how the whole criminal justice system is performing – providing transparency and accountability for the first time with the first scorecard published by December.

What we will do for victims:

  • Use the upcoming Victims’ Bill to guarantee victims’ rights in law and hold criminal justice agencies to account for delivering them.
  • Give victims access to 24/7 support through a helpline and online service – ensuring no matter when someone needs support it is available.
  • Consult on the provision of community-based support for victims of sexual violence and  the role of the Independent Sexual Violence Advisors in the forthcoming Victims’ Bill consultation.
  • Consult on how to enhance support for rape victims to understand and challenge disclosure decisions.

What the police and Crown Prosecution Service will do:

  • Better data extraction technology – enabling up to 10,000 devices each year to be processed at the earliest stages of an investigation
  • Work with mobile phone industry to support police efforts to provide ‘swap out’ phones for victims.
  • Move to a default investigative process that focusses on suspect’s behaviour rather than victim credibility.
  • Launch new ‘Pathfinder Projects’ across four more police forces which allow external scrutiny of police decisions, a more active focus on perpetrators offending patterns and drive victim confidence in police and CPS.
  • Establish a culture of effective joint working between police and CPS so that they can better support victims and build better cases.
  • The CPS will relaunch pre-trial witness interviews which aid CPS decision making and can deal with inconsistencies earlier on in the process

What will happen at court:

  • The Law Commission will begin a review into ‘rape myths’ to ensure courts are tackling them at every opportunity while also examining the use of a victims’ sexual history as evidence and whether expert evidence can be used in court to counter misconceptions about rape.
  • Pre-recorded cross-examination – which allows victims to provide evidence on video prior a trial – will be piloted in a further three crown courts with a wider national rollout considered following evaluation of the pilots.

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Jun.19: 2021:

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports by https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all our posts, also links can be found at here for Twitter and Live Feeds https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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(LONDON) Press Release Statement Report: The Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee met today and Lord Frost and Vice-President Šefčovič commended the extensive technical discussions that have already taken place on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – June.10: The UK set out the extensive steps already taken to operate the Protocol, both by the UK Government, the Northern Ireland Executive, and by businesses across the UK.

GOVUK Statement Report: On the meeting of the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee: 9 June 2021’ between Lord Frost & President Sefcovic

The UK made clear its continued commitment to constructive engagement in order to find pragmatic solutions that ensure the Protocol operates in a way that safeguards the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in all its dimensions, minimises its impact on the day-to-day lives of communities in Northern Ireland, and maintains the integrity of the EU’s Single Market. The UK will continue to put forward detailed proposals, as we have throughout this year, and looks forward to discussing any proposals the EU may put forward.

There is an urgent need for further discussions in order to make real progress, particularly to avoid disruption to critical supplies such as medicines.

The UK’s assessment of the state of play is as follows.

The UK is concerned that substantive progress has not yet been made in many areas, notably:

  • SPS / veterinary arrangements. The UK has made a proposal which recognises the high standards of both Parties and establishes mechanisms to identify and address any risk arising from changes made on either side;
  • Arrangements further to reduce and remove burdens for trusted agri-food traders moving goods for use or consumption in Northern Ireland, for example – enabling streamlined processes for highly trusted retailers with full traceability and auditability of supply chains. Here too the UK has made a proposal.
  • Prohibition on imports to Northern Ireland of fresh minced meat or other SPS commodities such as seed potatoes;
  • Pet travel from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. The UK sees no reason why Part 1 listing could not be granted by the EU, which would resolve the problems.
  • The application of tariff rate quotas (TRQs) for goods entering Northern Ireland, including on steel. As a result of EU legislative changes last year, Northern Ireland traders are currently at a unique disadvantage;
  • The criteria for the UK Trader Scheme (UKTS) and the application of the concept of “goods not at risk”. Movements of goods sent from Great Britain to Northern Ireland in parcels In the following areas, whilst progress has not yet been made, the UK has been led to understand that further proposals will be received from the EU:
  • The supply of medicines to Northern Ireland.
  • Approval processes for high-risk plants intended for export to the EU to be moved into Northern Ireland;
  • Livestock movements between Great Britain and Northern Ireland;

Finally, there has been some progress towards solutions on the following limited areas:

  • Assistance dogs entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain;
  • EU access to UK customs IT systems and databases – on which the UK has provided detailed plans for interim and long-term arrangements;
  • Clarifying and refining the process for allocating “XI” Economic Operator Registration and Identification numbers (EORI) for those trading in Northern Ireland;
  • Setting out the basis on which Northern Ireland businesses importing second-hand vehicles from Great Britain can benefit from a VAT margin scheme;
  • Implementing a technical Interface between the UK and EU ECHO and TRACES systems.
  • Implementation of the Export and Transit Trans-European Systems in Northern Ireland.

The UK will continue to work actively to find solutions. If solutions cannot be found, the Government will of course continue to consider all options available for safeguarding peace, prosperity and stability in Northern Ireland.

The Joint Committee also discussed the ongoing implementation of citizens’ rights for persons eligible under the Withdrawal Agreement. The UK set out the continued success of the UK’s EU Settlement Scheme, where over 5 million applications have been concluded, underlined its determination to respect EU citizens’ rights, and urged the EU and Member States to do likewise as regards UK citizens within the EU.

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: June.10: 2021:

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports by https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all our posts, also links can be found at here for Twitter and Live Feeds https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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