A top North Yorkshire police chief has retracted his advice to women to be more “streetwise” following the harrowing murder of Sarah Everard.
Philip Allott, elected as Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire in May, told BBC Radio on Friday: “So women, first of all, need to be streetwise about when they can be arrested and when they can’t be arrested.”
Discussing how then-serving police officer Wayne Couzens showed Everard his police ID badge, put her under false arrest with handcuffs before raping and murdering her, Allott said: “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.”
At 4pm the same day, he tweeted: “I would like to wholeheartedly apologise for my comments on BBC Radio York earlier today, which I realised have been insensitive and wish to retract them in full.”
Allott’s apology followed a strong online response to his words.
Activist Lucy Arnold 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.”
Other accounts chimed in on Twitter, describing his words as “extraordinary”.
Journalist Ash Sarkar tweeted: “Hey ladies, did you know you have the right *not* to be raped and murdered?
“Commissioner Philip Allott thinks that if a killer cop uses his authority to arrest and kidnap you, you should simply inform him that a lawyer will send him a strongly worded letter in 3-5 working days.”
Allott did also criticise the Met in his radio interview, and said the two indecent exposure incidents linked to Couzens back in February “should have been picked up straight away” by the police.
The police watchdog is currently investigating how the exposure reports were handled by the force a month before Everard’s killing.
The debate comes the day after Couzens was sentenced to a whole-life order behind bars, one of the UK’s strictest forms of punishment.
As he abused his police powers to abduct Everard, there are widespread calls from the public for reforms within the police force, particularly the Met.
Yet the police have only drawn further criticism for advising women to call 999, run away or flag down a passing bus if they are concerned about a lone police officer asking “searching questions”.
Senior Labour MP Harriet Harman has called for the Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick to resign too.