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Police chief: ‘Trust in the Met has fallen’

Commander to tackle women’s safety

15 October, 2021 — By Isabelle Stanley

Chief superintendent Andy Carter

ISLINGTON’S new borough commander has shared his thoughts on violence against women and girls in the wake of high-profile murders across London.

Chief superintendent Andy Carter, who has taken over from Raj Kohli, who moved to Hampshire, said he is determined to tackle the issue following the murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa.

He said: “This feels like a really significant moment, we’ve got to do everything we can to set the highest standards and deliver them to ensure this never happens again.”

Ms Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered in March by serving police officer Wayne Couzens, who used his police credentials to abduct her.

Public outcry was heightened further by the death of Sabina Nessa, who was murdered while walking to a pub through her local park.

The deaths of two more women, Norma Girolami and Nicole Hurley, in north London have been announced in the past fortnight. In both cases male suspects are in custody.

Chief Supt Carter started work as Camden and Islington borough commander three weeks ago.

He said the actions of Ms Everard’s murderer have shaken the Met: “This was a series of horrific attacks made worse by the fact he was a police officer. His actions have had a big impact on the Met. From the top to the bottom of the organisation, we feel that Wayne Couzens has let us down.”

He added that he is “very conscious of the need to protect women and girls and ensure they feel safe”.

To do so, he said Camden’s force is working closely with third sector organisations and the council to run listening circles, walkabouts where women can identify places they feel unsafe, and enhanced training.

However, he said he is aware this may not be enough: “We’re not complacent, we are constantly checking to see if there’s more we can do, we need to redouble our efforts to make sure this stops happening.”

One of the main issues Chief Supt Carter wants to tackle is underreporting. In the year leading up to August 2021, 251 people reported rape in Islington, meaning a rape was reported more than every other day. However, even these numbers are an underestimation.

Victims of sexual violence can be put off reporting for several reasons – the process is long, exhausting and often traumatising. Sometimes victims can be stigmatised or blamed for the crime they were a victim of.

On top of this, there is often no light at the end of the tunnel, with only 1.4 per cent of reports of rape ending in a conviction.

Victims Commissioner Dame Vera Baird said in her yearly report that the conviction rate has fallen so low, “what we are witnessing is the de-criminalisation of rape”.

Chief Supt Carter said he was aware that the public’s trust in the police may have fallen: “We recognise that underreporting of these issues can be significant and that’s why it’s so important to ensure the trust of victims and our interactions with them.”

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