Tory sparks fury after saying Sarah Everard should not have 'submitted' to false arrest

1 October 2021, 17:10 | Updated: 1 October 2021, 17:12

The commissioner's comments sparked fury
The commissioner's comments sparked fury. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

A police and crime commissioner's suggestion that Sarah Everard should not have "submitted" to arrest by the officer who murdered her has sparked fury.

Philip Allott has apologised after suggesting women needed to be "streetwise" but his comments, made just a day after Wayne Couzens was jailed for life, caused outrage.

The Met Police officer used coronavirus laws as a pretext to detain Ms Everard, before driving her out of London to rape and murder her, then burning her body and dumping her remains in a pond in Kent.

Mr Allott, the Conservative police, fire and crime commissioner for North Yorkshire, said earlier on Thursday: "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."

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His comments drew rage, with Patsy Stevenson, who came to public attention when she was arrested at the vigil for Ms Everard on Clapham Common, tweeting: "What a disgusting comment. How DARE you. It was not her fault in any way, shape or form."

Lucy Arnold, from Reclaim the Streets, who organised a vigil at York Minister, told the BBC: "I think frankly that was a horrifically offensive thing to say.

"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."

In a tweet later on Friday, Mr Allott said: "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."

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His comments followed fresh advice from the Met, which advised women to run away or try to wave down a bus if they believe they are in "real danger" after being stopped by a lone officer.

Ms Everard's murder has drawn more focus on women's safety, with the nature of Couzens' abduction – using his position as a police officer – leading to questions about whether anyone would have put up resistance in the face of seemingly being arrested.

The Met said a lone plain clothed officer would rarely deal with a member of the public and recommended asking searching questions or attempting to verify the officer is who they say they are.

If a person still feels threatened, the force suggested running, waving down a bus for help or getting to a place where they can call 999 for help.