Met Commissioner calls for indecent exposure offence overhaul after Couzens victim criticises force's response

10 March 2023, 14:15 | Updated: 29 February 2024, 07:48

Met Commissioner calls for indecent exposure offence overhaul
Met Commissioner calls for indecent exposure offence overhaul. Picture: Alamy
Charlotte Lynch

By Charlotte Lynch

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has told LBC there should be tougher punishments for indecent exposure, saying “a predatory male in a dark alley” would be treated the same as an “idiotic streaker on a football field” under current laws.

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Sir Mark Rowley was responding to an emotional court statement from a victim of Sarah Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens, who criticised the length of time police took to contact her after reporting that Couzens had exposed his genitals to her in a fast-food drive-thru.

Couzens was sentenced to a further 19 months in prison earlier in the week for three incidents of flashing.

The Commissioner told LBC: “There is clear evidence that some of these offences haven’t been taken seriously enough and these people shouldn’t have been in the police service – in some cases they could have been dealt with better.

“We’ve stepped up our approach to indecent exposure. In some cases it is predatory, intimidating and aggressive – it is not a minor offence, it’s a very, very serious offence.”

Asked whether he believed the offence should carry tougher punishments, Sir Mark Rowley responded: “I do – I think there is a big difference between an idiotic streaker on a football field and a predatory male in a dark alley exposing himself to a woman on the way home from a tube station.

"I’m not sure the sentencing framework reflects the predatory and horrific nature of the second one sufficiently."

Under current laws, both streaking on a football pitch and masturbating in public carry the same maximum sentence of two years.

Read more: ‘We could have saved Sarah’: Predatory cop Wayne Couzens seen on CCTV at drive-thru as flashing victim slams Met

Read more: Sinister WhatsApp messages show cop Wayne Couzens joking about rape with colleagues prior to Sarah Everard's murder

Couzens was sentenced to 19 months in prison for three incidents of flashing
Couzens was sentenced to 19 months in prison for three incidents of flashing. Picture: Handout

Responding to the Commissioner's comments, Reclaim the Streets co-founder Jamie Klingler tweeted: "This is the first thing that Mark Rowley had said as @metpoliceuk that has teeth and will make women safer.

"This is what Dick should have done in April of 2021 instead of telling us to run for buses in Oct 2021. Look forward to this being implemented."

Improving victim care is just one part of Sir Mark's nine-point plan to turn the Met around.

There is “no magic wand” to restore trust in the force, but it will be achieved through “doing the day-to-day better”, like improving neighbourhood policing and responding to incidents like burglaries and phone theft, he said.

Sir Mark added that the force was being "held back" by the focus on "bad apples" like Couzens and Carrick rather than focusing on “the good work the tens of thousands of good men and women in the force are doing”.

Sadiq Khan has announced £3m investment to enhance the support the Met offers victims of crime in London
Sadiq Khan has announced £3m investment to enhance the support the Met offers victims of crime in London. Picture: Alamy

It comes as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced a £3 million a year investment to enhance the support the Met offers victims of crime in London.

Mr Khan said: "The more time you spend with victims, the more you appreciate the extent to which crime blights lives. It can be – and often is – a devastating, violating and traumatising experience.

"It is imperative therefore that in their interactions with the authorities – the very institutions that are there to serve and protect them – victims are treated with the utmost compassion, sensitivity and respect.

“That’s why I’ve provided an additional £3m per year to significantly improve the support victims receive in their journey through the criminal justice system. Successful prosecution of cases often rely on victim’s testimonies, so we need to do much more to inspire victims’ confidence.

“The Government now has a responsibility to ensure victim’s rights are put at the heart of long overdue criminal justice reform and that these changes are made enforceable through the delivery of a Victims Bill.  It is only by having a justice system that truly lives up to its name that we can build a fairer, safer and more equal London for all.”

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