Metropolitan police boss Cressida Dick has been criticised for saying it is “incredibly rare” for women to be abducted from London’s streets following the disappearance of Sarah Everard.
Former Labour minister and MP Harriet Harman said women will find “no reassurance at all” in the statement Ms Dick issued after human remains were discovered in a woodland in Ashford, Kent.
Speaking in a parliamentary debate to mark International Women’s debate, the MP for Camberwell and Peckham said: “This International Women’s Day debate comes in the shadow of the menace of male violence against women.
“Women will find no reassurance at all in the Metropolitan Commissioner’s statement that, and I quote, ‘it is extremely rare for a woman to be abducted off the street’.
“Women know abduction and murder is just the worst end of a spectrum of everyday male threat to women. “
On Wednesday Ms Dick confirmed that human remains had been discovered during the search for the missing 33-year-old marketing executive, who was last heard from last Wednesday after she visited friends in Clapham.
Serving police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, has been arrested on suspicion of murder and a separate allegation of indecent exposure. He was arrested alongside a woman in her 30s, believed to be his partner, who was detained on suspicion of assisting an offender.
The Met boss said the arrest of a serving officer had sent “waves of shock and anger through the public and through the whole of the Met”.
She continued: “Sarah’s disappearance in these awful and wicked circumstances is every family’s worst nightmare.
“I know Londoners will want to know that it is thankfully incredibly rare for a woman to be abducted from our streets.
“But I completely understand that despite this, women in London and the wider public – particularly those in the area where Sarah went missing – will be worried and may well be feeling scared.
“You should expect to see continued high levels of police patrols in that area as well as very significant investigative activity.”
The Labour MP also criticised the Met’s decision to reportedly advise women in the area not to go out alone. The force has said they give out this advice as standard to “help keep people safe”, but the move has prompted accusations of victim-blaming.
“When the police advise women don’t go out at night on their own, women ask why do they have to be subjected to an informal curfew?” she asked.
“It is not women who are the problem here, it is men, and the criminal justice system fails women and lets men off the hook. Whether it is rape or whether it is domestic homicide, women are judged and blamed.”