North Yorkshire police commissioner quits over Sarah Everard ‘victim blaming’ storm

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Philip Allott said he apologised ‘unreservedly’ for his remarks  (Office of the North Yorkshire Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner)
Philip Allott said he apologised ‘unreservedly’ for his remarks (Office of the North Yorkshire Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner)

Philip Allott has resigned as North Yorkshire police, fire and crime commissioner after coming under fire for comments he made on the Sarah Everard murder, adding he wanted to “restore confidence in the office”.

Mr Allott tendered his resignation in an open letter to the chief executive of Selby District Council and police area returning officer.

He had been accused of victim blaming after he said in a radio interview that women should be more "streetwise" about powers of arrest and that Ms Everard, whose family live in York, should not have "submitted" to arrest by her killer Wayne Couzens, a serving police officer.

Mr Allott said he apologised "unreservedly" for his remarks, adding "they do not reflect my views".

He said: "I misspoke and I am devastated at the effect that this has had on victims of crime and the groups that support them. I have tried to say this again and again but I recognise that what I have said has not always been heard as I intended."

His original comments were met with a wave of criticism. Tory chairman Oliver Dowden said Prime Minister Boris Johnson “profoundly disagreed” with Mr Allott and his “stupid” comments.

Sarah Everard abduction, rape and murder at the hands of a serving Met police officer sent shockwaves throughout the country (PA Media)
Sarah Everard abduction, rape and murder at the hands of a serving Met police officer sent shockwaves throughout the country (PA Media)

Mr Dowden told Sky News: “The Prime Minister and I were outraged by what he said. It was completely unacceptable.”

In his resignation letter, Mr Allott said he was "doing the honourable thing" following a meeting of the North Yorkshire Fire and Crime Panel on Thursday which gave him a vote of no confidence in continuing in his role.

He said: "Following this morning's meeting of the Police and Crime Panel it seems clear to me that the task will be exceptionally difficult, if it is possible at all. It would take a long time and a lot of resources of my office and the many groups who do excellent work supporting victims.

"This is time victims do not have. There are women and girls in York and North Yorkshire today suffering at the hands of men. Victims and the groups who support them need to be heard. They cannot be heard if the airwaves are filled with discussion about my future.

"That is why I am doing the honourable thing and resigning as Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner - to restore confidence in the office which I believe will be almost impossible for me to do, and to enable victims' voices to be heard clearly without the distraction of the continued furore which surrounds me.

"I entered public life because I wanted to make a difference. I still do. So, I am committing myself to doing all I can as a private individual to support victims groups. The pledge I made as Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner was genuine. It is one I will keep."

Couzens, a Metropolitan Police officer, falsely arrested Ms Everard as she walked home in south London before raping and murdering her on the evening March 3, 2021.

Once she was handcuffed in the back of his car, Couzens drove the 33-year-old marketing executive to remote locations in Kent where she was raped and murdered, before burning her body and dumping her remains in a woodland pond.

Couzens pleaded guilty to Ms Everard’s murder, kidnap and rape in July and received a whole life prison sentence in September.

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