IN 21st Century Britain, no police officer leaving home to start a shift can be sure he or she will return home in one piece – or even alive.
Brave PC Andrew Harper, for example, was on a routine call when he was killed by a gang of youths who dragged his body at 50mph behind their getaway car.
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Popular sergeant Matiu Ratana didn’t even get out of the police station.
He was shot dead in Croydon custody centre.
Courageous officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect us — such as the policeman pictured by The Sun last month carrying two small children to safety from a blazing inferno.
Around 10,000 officers are injured in assaults every year.
Stabbings are now a constant threat to bobbies on the beat. Two officers were stabbed in a Dartmoor village just last week.
Police face these risks each time they put on their uniform. We take them for granted.
IMPORTANT, BUT INADEQUATE
There are other statistics which put the Couzens case and the safety of us all — especially women — in perspective.
We now know this porn addict, so notorious he was nicknamed “The Rapist” by former colleagues, was a walking alarm bell.
He had been officially reported as a “flasher” at least three times, with CCTV shots of his car number plate offered to police.
Flashers frequently become serious sex criminals.
Couzens’ inappropriate behaviour towards women was a subject of canteen gossip.
Yet even with such evidence crying out for action, nothing was done to stop him.
RIDDLED WITH VILLAINS
A dozen cops are now being quizzed over the failure to check those number plates which would have immediately identified the killer as a fellow officer.
It sounds inexplicable. And it is.
Until you realise that Britain’s police are riddled with villains who have been convicted of serious crimes.
At any one time, according to Freedom of Information checks, nearly 1,000 of our boys and girls in blue have criminal records.
An investigation two years ago revealed 913 officers had been arrested in the previous four years for crimes such as grievous bodily harm, domestic violence, burglary, drugs . . . and 142 sex offences, including 14 rapes. Just 24 per cent were dismissed by their force.
Considering how notoriously hard it is to get arrested for rape, still less convicted, that is a shocking figure.
“Flashing” — a menace to women of all ages — is treated by police as a trivial offence, barely worth logging, despite evidence it can escalate dangerously.
It means half our population cannot feel safe on the streets, even in broad daylight.
It is important we remember stories of heroism during the storm over killer cop Wayne Couzens and the failure of Met police to protect tragic victim Sarah Everard
And it is merely one symptom of the crisis in modern policing — confirmed by the suspension of Greater Manchester Police high command over its failure even to record 80,000 crimes a year, or 220 a day. GMP officers damningly admitted they “would not report a crime to their own force”.
London’s Met police probably feel the same way, with up to nine out of ten burglaries in the capital unsolved.
New Greater Manchester Chief Constable Stephen Watson condemns attempts to “screen out” — or ignore — crimes that alarm the public most.
He cited thefts from service stations, but he could just as easily have been talking about “flasher” Couzens.
“Call me old-fashioned, but the sort of people who do that can commit lots of other crimes,” said Mr Watson.
“We have CCTV footage of the individual plus their number plate.
“The one thing police are uniquely empowered to do is to arrest criminals and if we’re not doing that then nobody is.”
Sarah Everard’s death moved the nation because it could so easily have been prevented by using Mr Watson’s basic common sense.
Boris Johnson is recruiting 20,000 extra officers. They will be useless unless they are trained by their senior officers to do the job properly.
That requires nothing less than a revolution in police management — ordering those officers to get back to their primary task and start locking up villains like Couzens.
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