Plain clothes officers will now work in pairs, Sadiq Khan tells LBC

30 September 2021, 21:29

The Mayor of London has said plain clothes police officers will work in "at least pairs"
The Mayor of London has said plain clothes police officers will work in "at least pairs". Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Sadiq Khan has told LBC that plain clothes police officers will work in pairs from now on to help instil public trust in the police.

The Mayor of London was asked what, as a "man in power", he was doing to address the issue of violence against women and girls.

"Londoners will see increased visible uniformed presence in those parts of London where we know women and girls suffer more incidents than other parts," said Mr Khan.

"They're also going to see now plain clothes officers in at least pairs, so if anyone is approached by a plain clothes officer by himself and they're not confident they should ring the police to get the reassurance, and make a noise."

He added that officers were aware they had a "job to reassure Londoners".

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The London Mayor said that additional measures involved a probe into how police officers are checked.

"The inspectorate is looking again at vetting procedures," he said.

"[Wayne Couzens] joined Kent Police, then was transferred to the Civil Nuclear Police then was transferred to the Met Police service.

"Are their vetting procedures adequate in relation to the way officers join the police but also are transferred between police services?"

Mr Khan was also asked whether London was safe for women and girls.

He said their "lived experiences" were different from his own, and that the shocking statistics of violence against women and girls suggested they were not safe.

"When you hear the inspectorate of constabulary... use the word "epidemic" to describe violence against women and girls, clearly it isn't safe for women in this country," he said.

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The Mayor was also asked if Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick - who has been facing growing calls to quit - should a resign.

It was a question he dodged, although he did concede that the police service would be a vital part of the "seismic cultural change" that was necessary to protect women and girls.

"I think there's more than one person," he said.

"This is about making sure there is the seismic cultural change we need across society, including the police service by the way, and the criminal justice system."

Mr Khan's comments come as the Met Police advised people to call 999 and run away if they feel in danger when stopped by a lone "officer".

A spokesperson for the Met said it is unusual for a single plain clothes police officer to engage with people in London, but if it happens, other officers should arrive soon after.

"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," the force said.

The spokesperson added that people who get stopped should ask: "Where are your colleagues, where have you come from, why are you here and exactly why are you stopping or talking to me?"

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The force also said you should seek "independent verification", such as hearing the voice of an operator on a radio, or asking to speak to that operator to ensure the officer is genuine.

"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," the spokesperson said.

"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."