Backlash as North Yorkshire police commissioner says Sarah Everard should not have ‘submitted’ to false arrest

Sarah Everard should never have “submitted” to fake arrest and women “need to be streetwise” about the powers police have, a police commissioner has said.

North Yorkshire police commissioner Philip Allott was criticised for the comments he made while discussing the rape and murder of the 33-year-old marketing executive by Wayne Couzens, in which the former Metropolitan Police officer placed her in handcuffs and falsely arrested her in order to kidnap her.

Mr Allott has since said he would like to “wholeheartedly apologise” for his comments and said he wishes “to retract them in full”.

North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Philip Allott
Image: North Yorkshire police commissioner Philip Allott

Earlier on Friday, Mr Allott told BBC Radio York: “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.

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

It comes as a YouGov poll found 38% of adults in the UK think Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick should resign.

Of those, 44% of men surveyed thought she should resign compared to 32% of women.

More on Sarah Everard

Dame Cressida has faced several calls to resign over Ms Everard’s case, which has reignited public debate around the safety of women.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he is standing by the Met Police commissioner.

“I think that there will be police officers up and down the country, hundreds of thousands of them, who will be absolutely sick at heart about what has happened,” he said. “I think it was the commissioner herself who made the point about trust.

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PM – ‘I do think we can trust the police’

“What I would say to people is what I believe in my heart and have done for a long time: I believe in the police, I believe in the wonderful job that they do and I hope to goodness it has not shaken public trust in those hundreds of thousands of police officers around the country, the 52,000 in the Met, who do overwhelmingly a fantastic job.”

Asked if he was standing by Dame Cressida, he replied: “Absolutely.”

Handout CCTV dated 03/03/21 issued by the Metropolitan Police of Wayne Couzens speaking to Sarah Everard by the side of the road in Poynders Court, south London. Wayne Couzens, 48, is due to appear at the Old Bailey in London on Thursday for the second day of a two-day sentence hearing after pleading guilty to the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard. Issue date: Thursday September 30, 2021.
Image: Ms Everard was falsely arrested by Couzens in order to kidnap her

Mr Allott’s remarks were lambasted by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said: “These comments are appalling.

“It’s not up to women to fix this. It’s not us who need to change.

“The problem is male violence, not women’s ‘failure’ to find ever more inventive ways to protect ourselves against it. For change to happen, this needs to be accepted by everyone.”

The @EverydaySexism Twitter account said: “Just when you think the absurdity of victim blaming could not possibly go any further, here is a Police Commissioner openly blaming Sarah Everard for what happened to her on BBC radio.”

After the backlash, Mr Allott tweeted: “I would like to wholeheartedly apologise for my comments on BBC radio York earlier today, which I realise have been insensitive and wish to retract them in full.”

North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Philip Allott
Image: Mr Allott has said he would like to “wholeheartedly apologise” for his comments

It comes after the Metropolitan Police suggested women should wave down a bus or get the attention of passers-by if they are stopped by a police officer they do not trust.

The force made several suggestions about what people could do if they are approached by an officer but have concerns about their legitimacy.

It suggested people should ask where the officer’s colleagues are, where they have come from, why they are there and exactly why they are stopping or talking to them.

It said if a person feels in “real and imminent danger and they do not believe the officer is who they say they are” they should shout out to a passer-by, run into a house, knock on a door, call 999 if possible or wave a bus down.

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‘Seek verification’ if arrested, says govt

Policing minister Kit Malthouse earlier told Sky News’ Kay Burley that Couzens’ actions have “undermined the good work of thousands and thousands of police officers”.

He said the murder of Ms Everard had “struck a devastating blow to confidence in the police, and in the Met Police in particular”, but defended Dame Cressida.

Are women safe on our streets?
Image: Are women safe on our streets?

Are women safe on our streets?

The murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Metropolitan Police officer has triggered an outpouring of concern over women’s safety in the UK.

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