Northamptonshire plain-clothed officers ordered to prove identity to members of public in wake of Sarah Everard murder

Chief Constable Nick Adderley has issued a statement this afternoon

Friday, 1st October 2021, 3:04 pm
Chief Constable Nick Adderley

Plain-clothed police officers have been ordered by the county's most senior police officer to prove their identity when challenged by members of the public.

Chief Constable Nick Adderley issued a statement today following the handing of a whole-life sentence to Sarah Everard's murderer, police officer Wayne Couzens. It emerged at Couzens's sentencing hearing that he had arrested Sarah using his warrant card and police handcuffs before taking her in a hire car, raping her and ultimately murdering her.

Met Police boss Cressida Dick has come under pressure to resign after women in London were told to wave down a bus or shout for help if they were in any doubt over the person who was arresting them.

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It has also emerged that other officers shared sexist jokes with Couzens in at Whatsapp group in the days leading up to Sarah's murder, prompting public discussion about endemic misogyny in police forces.

Now Chief Constable Adderley says he has issued immediate advice to his own officers to ensure that the public are clearly able to identify them to try to 'rebuild public confidence'.

In a statement posted on YouTube, he said: "We are going to redouble our efforts to rebuild the trust and confidence that you, the public, has in the work that we do with immediate effect.

"Plain-clothes police officers, they have been briefed, that where a member of the public challenges their identity, they must comply with a request from the member of the public and show their identiy card, what is often known as a warrant card, and if the member of the public still has doubts, the police officer will assist them in contacting the police control room to make sure that they verify their identification.

"If you are stopped by a plain clothes police officer and they are single crewed, you must demand, and they have been ordered, to call for a second officer to verify that they are who they say they are.

"Together we will rebuild that trust and confidence and and make sure we get back credibility that the police service so desperately seeks."

In a separate written statement, Chief Constable Adderley said: "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."