A police boss has apologised in response to a huge backlash caused by his suggestion that women “need to be streetwise” and that Sarah Everard “never should have submitted” to the fake arrest that led to her murder.

Details emerged during murderer Wayne Couzens’ sentencing revealing that he lured Everard into his care by falsely arresting her for a breach of coronavirus guidelines and showing his police warrant badge.

North Yorkshire commissioner Philip Allott later sparked anger with his comments about the case, after he urged women to learn about the “legal process”.

Speaking on BBC Radio York, Allott said women should be aware breaching Covid rules was not an indictable offence – which is one considered serious enough to warrant a prison sentence or crown court hearing.

“So women, first of all, need to be streetwise about when they can be arrested and when they can’t be arrested. She should never have been arrested and submitted to that,” he said.

“Perhaps women need to consider in terms of the legal process, to just learn a bit about that legal process”.

It follows an outpouring of disbelief that has followed the Met Police’s attempts to reassure women in the wake of the crime. Today, they suggested women simply “run away” or get on a bus if they feel unsafe around a lone male police officer. The police force is also facing criticism for failing to act on previous allegations made against Couzens, including separate instances of indecent exposure. They have now launched a fresh probe to examine this.

In a statement attempting to inform people of safety measures, they also said people should make steps to verify the identity of someone claiming to be a police officer, causing many to suggest they were placing responsibility on victims, not criminals, to stay safe.

Responding to the police chief’s comments, people were similarly outraged and many, including Labour MP Barbara Keeley, called for his resignation:

And Nicola Sturgeon called the comments “appalling”.

Lucy Arnold, from campaign group Reclaim the Streets, who organised a vigil outside York Minster following Everard’s death, called his comments “horrifically offensive”.

“I think frankly that was a horrifically offensive thing to say,” she said.

“Does anyone really feel like they can stand up to a police officer?

“I am very confident I know my rights, I know the law, but no I wouldn’t feel confident at all.”

The BBC reported that Allott later tweeted his comments were not intended to imply blame. However, the link they provided no longer functions, suggesting the tweet has been deleted.

“Nobody is blaming the victim what I am saying is that we need to inform women far better of their rights, something I intend to action here in North Yorkshire ASAP,” he reportedly wrote.

Later, he issued an apology on Twitter saying he wished to “retract” the comments, realising they were “insensitive”.

But some said he should still resign, saying his retraction was “too little, too late”.

In his earlier interview, Allott was also critical of the Met Police’s alleged failure to investigate two indecent exposure incidents linked to Couzens in February, describing it as a red flag for any force.

“A murderer typically commits seven crimes before going on to murder, that man we know committed at least two crimes,” he said.

“The police knew, so what should have happened is that it should have been picked up straight away.”

Indy100 has contacted the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for comment.

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)