Man who pretended to be police officer to 'arrest' woman jailed

7 October 2021, 19:56

A man who claimed to be a police officer and tried to "arrest" a woman has been jailed.
A man who claimed to be a police officer and tried to "arrest" a woman has been jailed. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

A man who pretended to be a police officer to "arrest" a woman has been jailed, after the introduction of officer verification in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard.

Gary Shepherd, 44, pleaded guilty to impersonating a police officer and common assault at Barrow Magistrates' Court on Thursday and was jailed for 22 weeks.

Shepherd, from Barrow, was also fined £85 and ordered to pay costs of £128.

The 44-year-old approached a woman in a car park in Barrow at about 6.30pm on Tuesday while wearing a blue lanyard with "police" written on the material, Cumbria Police said.

Read more: Police Scotland launch lone officer verification check in wake of Sarah Everard murder

He told the woman he was arresting her for drug dealing but she approached a member of the public and when they both challenged Shepherd he left the scene, a force spokesman said.

Shepherd initially denied being in the area of Greengate car park, but in his second police interview claimed his actions had been a "joke", the force said.

Superintendent for South Cumbria, Matt Pearman, said: "To be approached in this way by someone falsely claiming to be a police officer must have been extremely frightening for the victim, particularly coming so soon after the sentencing of Wayne Couzens last week.

"Our officers recognised the seriousness of this incident swiftly and were able to quickly arrest Shepherd, who, less than 48 hours after the initial incident, is now starting a significant prison sentence."

The force said magistrates had activated a previously suspended four-week prison sentence and sentenced Shepherd to a further 18 weeks in custody for impersonating a police officer and common assault.

Read more: Officers should not be re-vetted in wake of Everard murder, police chief tells LBC

His sentencing comes after Cumbria Police announced a new process for members of the public to confirm the identities of lone officers, following the murder of Sarah Everard.

Officers will provide their collar number to anyone who asks and will contact the control room on the police radio to confirm their identity, location, that they are on duty and the reason they are speaking to someone, the force announced on Thursday.

Chief Constable Michelle Skeer said: "The facts of how Sarah Everard died have shocked and appalled us all. It is truly horrifying that a police officer could abuse their position and their powers to carry out such abhorrent crimes.

"We fully understand that this has impacted confidence in policing and may also cause concerns for others when they encounter a lone police officer.

"All of our police officers carry a Cumbria Constabulary identification card.

"However, we absolutely recognise our responsibility to introduce an additional means of verification to provide further reassurance to anyone, including women who may feel vulnerable.

"This new verification process will hopefully reassure people that when they encounter one of our officers, they are speaking to an officer who is carrying out a legitimate and professional policing response."