These are your rights if you’re stopped by a police officer

You have the right to ask for additional, or female, officers to be present

Today, Wayne Couzens was sentenced to life in prison for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Sarah Everard. 

Yesterday it was revealed Couzens abused his power. A court heard that at the time of the murder when Couzens was still employed as a Metropolitan Police Officer, he used his police warrant, handcuffs and knowledge of the Covid policing guidelines to lure Sarah into a hired vehicle before killing her. 

There’s only so much advice that can be given to young women to avoid being in the same situation Sarah Everard tragically found herself in. And whilst women are more than aware change doesn’t start with rape alarms or lists on what women shouldn’t wear when outside, it’s important women have the knowledge on how to exercise their rights against police power.

Here’s what you need to know when a lone police officer stops you:

First and foremost you need to ask for the grounds as to why you’re being stopped and what they think it is they’ll find in your possession.

You can also ask to see a warrant card, once they show it to you then text their police number to a family member or friend.

Also refrain from giving out your name or address unless the officer points out an offence they suspect you have committed. Try to remember the conversation you’re having with the officer is being recorded on a body camera, this footage is also kept for 30 days. 

Know it is your right to complain if you feel as though you’ve been discriminated against or if an officer has abused their authority. 

If an officer attempts to arrest you, resist calmly and refuse handcuffs if you’ve only been pulled aside for questioning. Also request a female officer comes, if your request is declined then call 999 and directly ask for one yourself. 

Avoid entering any kind of vehicle until additional officers arrive. If there aren’t any additional officers available, request the officer who is arresting you to walk with you to the nearest police station.

If you’re signalled by a lone officer whilst driving, drive to the nearest police station or busy public area. Also call your family or friends to let them know what’s happening and where you are. 

Sisters Uncut is also starting Copwatch Police Intervention training, groups that are being launched across the country and will try to intervene in every stop and search, arrest and kidnapping. You can sign up here.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

‘Met Police, blood on your hands’: Protestors gather outside Wayne Couzens’ sentencing

• Police officer pleads guilty to the murder of Sarah Everard

• Six women have been reported as killed by men since Sarah Everard’s disappearance, says MP

Feature image courtesy of John Gomez and Bradley Stearn on Shutterstock.