The Prime Minister said the public are right to question whether police are failing women in the wake of the damning revelations of the Sarah Everard case and the missed opportunities by the Met to catch her cop killer Wayne Couzens.
Johnson held talks with Cressida Dick on Thursday about how to boost the low rate of prosecutions for rape in the hope of removing dangerous men from the streets.
Boris Johnson has savaged the ‘infuriating’ failure of the Metropolitan Police to take violence against women seriously
He told The Times: ‘Are the police taking this issue seriously enough? It’s infuriating. I think the public feel that they aren’t and they’re not wrong.’
‘Do I fundamentally believe the police are on our side? Yes, absolutely they are. Can you trust the police? Yes you can.
‘But there is an issue about how we handle sexual violence, domestic violence, the sensitivity, the diligence, the time, the delay, the confusion about your mobile phone. That’s the thing we need to fix.’
Only three per cent of rape cases reported to police last year resulted in a suspect being charged, a record low.
The government has pledged to reverse the decline and set itself a target of 13 per cent.
Earlier, Johnson ordered the authorities to ‘come down hard’ on officers found guilty of misconduct as a watchdog investigates multiple serving cops for allegedly exchanging misogynistic, racist and vile messages in a WhatsApp group with Couzens.
He said on Friday: ‘I do believe in the police. I do think that we can trust the police. And I think the police do a wonderful, wonderful job.’
He added that ‘hundreds of thousands’ of officers would be ‘absolutely heartsick’. But he said the Government needed to get to the bottom of ‘what on earth’ happened to ensure nothing like it occurred again.
Meanwhile Priti Patel ordered police to take harassment and flashing more seriously and dismissed the idea that they were ‘low level crimes’.
Priti Patel ordered police to take harassment and flashing more seriously and dismissed the idea that they were ‘low level crimes’
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, the Home Secretary said forces have been given ample resources to treat all reports of crime adequately.
She said: ‘I would say to all women: give voice to these issues, please… There is something so corrosive in society if people think that it’s OK to harass women verbally, physically, and in an abusive way on the street.
‘I want women to have the confidence to call it out. I don’t see all of this as low level.
‘I don’t want to see postcode lotteries around the country. This is a very clear message to police to raise the bar: treat everybody in the right way. Make sure that when these crimes or concerns are reported, people are treated with respect, dignity and seriously.’
Earlier, Patel said that those in power needed to come together to say that the current climate was ‘unacceptable’. In an interview with the Evening Standard, she said: ‘I don’t just say this as Home Secretary. I think women have basically said that’s it – enough is enough.
Johnson held talks with Cressida Dick on Thursday about how to boost the low rate of prosecutions for rape
‘This was a monster that absolutely abused power and authority and that’s an absolute scandal.’
Despite the concerns about the Met’s failings, Johnson backed Cressida Dick although there is understood to be growing frustrations in the Home Office that she is struggling to grapple violent crime and institutional misconduct.
The PM said he wants to make sure women feel more confident in how their complaints will be handled going forward.
To add to the Met’s failings, it emerged last night that Wayne Couzens was named as a suspect in a sex offence 72 hours before he killed Sarah Everard.
CCTV evidence of a car involved in an alleged flashing incident at a drive-thru McDonald’s in February this year generated the name ‘Wayne Couzens’ as a suspect on Metropolitan Police systems – and provided his address.
But officers failed to realise that he was a serving officer and further inquiries were not made until after Miss Everard’s disappearance on March 3.
It had been known that Couzens’ car was reported by staff at a McDonald’s restaurant in Swanley, Kent, after two female workers said they had been flashed by a motorist there on February 7 and again on February 27. The complaint was made on February 28.
But last night it emerged the CCTV evidence showing his number plate had actually brought up Couzens’ name as a suspect on Met police systems.
Yesterday a McDonald’s worker who was flashed by the sexual predator blasted officers for ‘not acting quickly enough’. The worker, who did not want to be named, said: ‘The police took our statements and took away CCTV. If they had taken this more seriously, they could easily have figured out that he was a policeman who had committed these crimes.
It emerged last night that Wayne Couzens was named as a suspect in a sex offence 72 hours before he killed Sarah Everard
‘The police had three days to stop him but didn’t. It could have stopped him from doing a lot worse.’
A former head of Scotland Yard said police chief Dame Cressida must be held accountable for an ‘appalling series of blunders’ in the case.
In a stinging rebuke Lord Stevens, who served as Met Commissioner between 2000 and 2005, said: ‘You have to look at yourself and say can I continue? Can I continue with confidence?
‘Can I continue in way that brings around the change that’s necessary to make the public feel safe – and in this particular instance, women safe. And further, have we got people in the police service who should not be there?’
Meanwhile, two Metropolitan Police officers who swapped highly offensive messages with Couzens in the months before the murder are still on duty, it has been revealed.
The constables are alleged to have been part of a WhatsApp group involving officers from three forces who fell under investigation after Couzens’s phone was seized following his arrest.
It is claimed they have been left on duty even after being placed under criminal investigation for allegedly exchanging sexist and racist messages with the sexual predator.
Yesterday Sue Fish, a former chief constable of Nottinghamshire Police, criticised the Met’s decision not to suspend the officers under investigation. ‘That beggars belief. That clearly demonstrates the Met does not get it… does not get the seriousness,’ she told the Guardian.
The Met’s decision contrasts with the actions of other forces who have suspended officers while the investigation continues.