What to do if you are stopped by police in Sheffield in the wake of Sarah Everard murder
Advice has been issued to anyone in South Yorkshire stopped by the police in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving cop.
Sarah was raped and killed after PC Wayne Couzens stopped her on as she walked home in London, showed her his warrant card and handcuffed her.
It is believed he may have told the 33-year-old he was ‘arresting’ her for breaking lockdown rules in place at the time.
Couzens, 48, was handed a whole life sentence for the kidnap, rape and murder of the marketing executive, meaning he will never be released from behind bars.
Sentencing him at the Old Bailey, Lord Justice Fulford described the circumstances of the murder as ‘grotesque’.
It is feared the actions of Couzens, a Metropolitan Police officer who was sacked over his criminality, could have repercussions for law-abiding officers conducting their day-to-day duties.
Police forces across the UK have issued advice to members of the public stopped by a lone officer.
It says: “It is very unusual for a single police officer - particularly in plain clothes - to engage with anyone. If that does happen, and it may do for various reasons, then you should expect to see other officers arrive shortly afterwards, as that is standard practice.
“However, if that doesn’t happen and you do find yourself in an interaction with a sole police officer and you are on your own, it is entirely reasonable for you to seek further reassurance of that officer’s identity and intentions.
“Our advice is to ask some very searching questions of that officer – where are your colleagues? where have you come from? Why are you here? Exactly why are you stopping or talking to me?
“Try to seek some independent verification of what they say, if they have a radio ask to hear the voice of the operator, even ask to speak through the radio to the operator to say who you are and for them to verify you are with a genuine officer, acting legitimately.
“All officers will, of course, know about this case and will be expecting in an interaction like that - rare as it may be - that members of the public may be understandably concerned and more distrusting than they previously would have been, and should and will expect to be asked more questions.
“If after all of that you feel in real and imminent danger and you do not believe the officer is who they say they are, for whatever reason, then you must seek assistance - shouting out to a passer-by, running into a house, knocking on a door, waving a bus down or if you are in the position to do so calling 999.”
Commenting on the actions of disgraced cop Couzens, John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation, said: “This predator is an absolute disgrace to the police service, and I am totally ashamed that he was ever a police officer.
“I am proud to carry a warrant card, but this vile individual’s abuse of that authority has cast a shadow on all those who work within policing. He has brought disgrace to our uniform.
“The way he took advantage of Sarah’s trust makes me feel sick to the stomach.”