Statement following sentencing in Sarah Everard murder case
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From Nick Adderley, Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police:
In March this year, Sarah Everard was tragically murdered by a man who, at the time, was a serving officer with the Metropolitan Police Service.
Yesterday at the Old Bailey, Wayne Couzens was handed a whole life term after the court heard how he used his police credentials to abduct Sarah from a London street, before going on to rape and murder her.
His despicable actions have not only robbed a vibrant young woman of her life, and utterly devastated her family and friends, they have also shaken public trust in policing to the core.
I know you will all share my horror at the actions of this man. Police officers and staff who want to protect the public are sickened by his crimes.
We understand how deeply concerning his actions are and want to let you know about the measures we’re taking to help the people we protect and serve feel confident in us and the vital work we do.
Police officers always carry identification and can always be asked for verification. They are used to providing that reassurance. I have reminded all my officers of the need for them to be proactive in providing evidence of who they are, including producing their warrant and identity card.
It would be extremely unusual for an officer in plain clothes to be working alone, and if they are, as standard practice they should be calling for assistance with other officers arriving very soon.
Here in Northamptonshire, going forward I have ordered that all plain clothed officers operating on patrol or who will be approaching members of the public without prior appointment will do so in pairs.
If you are stopped by one of our officers and still wish to check their identity after they have shown you their warrant card, they will assist you to call our Force Control Room on 101, where the call handlers can independently verify their details to you.
If people still feel things are not quite right or you are in imminent danger you must seek assistance, if that means shouting out to another member of the public, flagging a car down or even dialing 999 then do that.
Our officers are dedicated to keeping you safe as they fight crime across our county, and I want you to know that we will be working hard to ensure you have trust and confidence in us as we do this.