It seems Met Police Commissioner Mark Rowley wants to draw a line under his service’s shameful treatment of women. It may not be that easy.
But while the Met has issued an apology and “substantial” payouts to Patsy Stevenson and Dania al-Obeid, who were arrested at a vigil for Sarah Everard in 2021, both have said they will continue to “speak up about police abuse”.
Ms Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by then-serving Met Police officer Wayne Couzens, who is now serving a whole-life prison sentence for his crimes.
Ms Stevenson and Ms al-Obeid attended the vigil on Clapham Common while Covid-19 restrictions were in place in March 2021 because they felt women had been “badly let down”, and the Met has now officially admitted that this was “understandable”.
In letters to the two women from Commander Karen Findlay, the Met acknowledged that even during Covid, their “fundamental right to protest remained”, but noted that the pandemic “presented an extremely difficult challenge for policing and the officers present”. It added: “That aside, I appreciate the anger, frustration and alarm your arrest undoubtedly caused you, exacerbated by the subsequent proceedings.”
Ms Stevenson tweeted:
We did it. pic.twitter.com/tCakXf6T5Q
— Patsy Stevenson (@PatsyeStevenson) September 14, 2023
The Guardian reported,
On Wednesday, Stevenson expressed relief that this chapter of the “tiring” fight was over, but said that while the apology was welcome, it was “half-arsed”. She added that the controversial Public Order Act had “further eroded and undermined” citizens’ fundamental right to protest.
“Every step has been a huge hurdle, so I appreciate what they’ve said, but […] even if you go through a [legal battle], they still won’t hold themselves accountable for what they’ve done. But this is a very big win for us, and for everyone who attended the vigil.”
And Ms al-Obeid was reported as receiving the information in the following way:
Al-Obeid, who was handcuffed and arrested at the vigil, discovered that she had been convicted behind closed doors under the Single Justice Procedure (SJP) only after being contacted by media.
She challenged the conviction on the grounds that she had no opportunity to plead not guilty, and the case was then dropped by the CPS and her “crime” removed from the record. She called the apology “empowering”, but said victims of abuse needed more support that could not be provided by the police.
“The police are not the right organisation to be on the frontline for victims of violence. They just end up re-traumatising them,” said Al-Obeid, herself a victim of domestic abuse. “There is a real need for specialised resources to deal with these situations.
“I will continue speaking out about the abuse that goes on in police forces and their lack of support for victims of abuse.”
The covert conviction under the Single Justice Procedure is deeply concerning in itself.
How many other people have been convicted of crimes without even knowing they had been accused?
That in itself suggests that the apology from the Met is hollow.
Also in the news today is this:
Scotland Yard has admitted overusing its power to strip-search children after four of its officers were told they would face disciplinary proceedings over allegations that their search of a 15-year-old black schoolgirl known as Child Q was inappropriate and amounted to discrimination owing to her race and sex.
Remember this story?
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said three of the officers faced accusations of gross misconduct over the search, carried out at a school in Hackney, in east London, in December 2020. A fourth officer faces lesser misconduct action over the absence of an appropriate adult.
It is alleged that the decision to carry out the strip-search, while the girl was having her period, was inappropriate; that Child Q was treated differently because of her race and sex; that there was no appropriate adult present; and that the officers did not get authorisation from a supervisor.
So disciplinary proceedings are to begin, nearly three years after the incident.
This Writer can’t see the result affecting the careers of those involved.
At the rate the case is proceeding, they will all have retired long before any verdict is reached.
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