Lone plain-clothed officers will video-call a uniformed supervisor while engaging with lone women to show proof of their identities, the Metropolitan Police said on Wednesday.
Wiltshire Police have already announced a similar scheme whereby officers will put their personal radio on speaker and ask their control room to confirm their identity.
The Met said officers mostly patrol in uniform near their colleagues, but in rare occasions where a lone plain-clothed officer needs to engage with a lone female member of the public, apart from showing a warrant card, the officer will “proactively provide verification of their identity and purpose” by video-calling a uniformed supervisor in a police control room.
The supervisor will “conduct the necessary checks and provide reassurance that the officer is who they say they are and that they are acting appropriately,” as well as ensuring the encounter is “properly recorded,” the Met said in a statement.
In the case of an off-duty officer responding to an incident, and other scenarios in which officers don’t have their devices, the women engaged by the officer can call 999 or video-call the number provided by the officer, to verify their identities.
Every local operations room has a “dedicated mobile device” to make and receive calls through apps including FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, and Google Duo, the Met said.
Laurence Taylor, deputy assistant commissioner of frontline policing, said police want to “give all the reassurance” they can.
Shortly after the killer of Everard was jailed, the force was heavily criticised after suggesting that women who are concerned they are not being stopped legitimately should try to flag down a passing bus or run to a nearby house.
When asked whether the advice had been reviewed, Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick told members of the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee it had.
“I completely understand why that ended up as the headline. It was not intended, and it is not how we see things,” she told the committee. “Yes we have reviewed it and I think we would address the question differently were it to come again in the future.”
Dick stressed that the onus should be on the police officer to properly identify themselves, and that the bus advice given was “if all else fails” when someone may want to try to get help.
PA contributed to this report.