Met chief: Violence against women and girls should be treated the 'same as terrorism'

Sir Mark Rowley Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Combatting violence against women and girls will need the same level of funding as the fights against terrorism or organised crime, the UK’s most senior police officer has said.

Sir Mark Rowley told the London Policing Board there are hundreds of thousands of men in Britain who are a threat to women and girls and the scale of the problem means it has to be treated as a threat to national security.

“The aim nationally should be to treat it as a national security threat like we treat organised crime, like we treat terrorism,” he said.

“When you look at the amount of harm that predatory men create in communities and to individuals, that’s what it deserves.”

He said that while 34,000 men had allegations made against them in one year in London, figures from the annual Crime Survey for England and Wales suggest nationally 800,000 women have been sexually assaulted.

An inquiry found a series of red flags were missed about killer Wayne Couzens. Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

Separate estimates from the National Crime Agency suggest that 750,000 men pose a sexual threat to children.

Sir Mark said: “You start to add these numbers together. There are a lot of men who are a threat to women and children.

“And we’re trying to build the capabilities to both react better to the crimes that are reported, and to proactively in public spaces or with dangerous offenders protect women and children.

“And we’re making progress by being clever, better organised, but we’re going to need the support of future governments to really build the scale of resource to deal with this problem across the country that is the same kind of resource that you have proportionately to deal with, say, terrorism and organised crime.”

Sir Mark faced questioning by the board in the wake of the first part of the Angiolini Inquiry published last week, which found that killer officer Wayne Couzens was a serial sexual predator who should never have been employed by the police service.

Inquiry chairwoman Lady Elish Angiolini published the first part of her inquiry last week Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

Couzens was able to work for three different forces despite a 20-year history of sexual depravity and spiralling debts, which should have stopped him being a police officer.

Instead he abused his powers to kidnap and then rape and murder marketing executive Sarah Everard as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, in March 2021.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan began the meeting by expressing his “deepest sympathies” to her loved ones, and labelling Lady Elish Angiolini’s report “one of the most shattering accounts of failure in British policing history”.

“Knowing that a police officer harboured the capacity for such sadistic violence still haunts our city,” he said.

“It’s a perpetual reminder of why we’re here and the importance of this board.

“Our task is one of the most urgent facing London today: to ensure we drive through the wide-ranging cultural and performance reforms needed within the Met, to ensure that we support and challenge the Commissioner in his mission – so that we can renew trust and confidence in policing in our capital.

“Whilst the Met is now on the path to fundamental reform, we’re clearly not there yet.

“I see police reform as a critical part of my mayoralty, and we must not be satisfied until Londoners have the police service they deserve.”


Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...