Council leader's response to arrest of Stevenage-based Met officer for alleged rape
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With stories of Wayne Couzens' kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard and David Carrick's arrest for alleged rape dominating the news, reports of the general distrust in the police force and concerns for the safety of women and girls have flooded the public domain.
Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor has shared her thoughts in light of the most recent developments, in which the 46-year-old serving Met police officer - who has since been dismissed - allegedly raped a woman at a Premier Inn in St Albans after meeting her in a pub on a Tinder date while off-duty.
In a statement to the Comet, Sharon said: "It was with the greatest concern that we learned of this latest arrest of a serving Metropolitan Police officer from Stevenage in relation to a charge of rape.
"The recent tragic murders of Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa and Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry are further stark reminders that violence against women and girls is increasing with more than one in three women experiencing violence in their lives, a truly shocking figure.
"We are very proud of the excellent partnership work done in Stevenage through Stevenage Against Domestic Abuse but women should be safe and feel safe on our streets, in our workplaces and in public places.
"While these violent attacks continue to happen, however rare they are, that will not be the case. When these attacks are carried out by a serving police officer, as happened in the case of Sarah Everard, the very foundations of our ability to feel safe in public are shaken.
"For too long the response to such violence against women has been to throw the responsibility back on women, telling them what to wear, where to walk, when they should be out etc. This is just not good enough, any response to such violence that starts with ‘Women should…’ is the wrong response!
"We will be working together with our local policing teams to play our part to keep our public spaces safe, but we will also be asking the police commissioner for Hertfordshire what his plans are to ensure action to tackle violence against women and girls is a top priority in Stevenage.
"We will also want his reassurance that the lessons learned from recent tragic cases are embedded in our local police force and the criminal justice system so that women and girls have confidence in a police service they can rely on."