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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Sarah Everard murder: New verification checks for Scotland’s police


A new verification check for lone police officers in Scotland has been introduced in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard.

After she was abducted and killed by Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens, Police Scotland said it wanted to reassure the public.

Couzens, 48, kidnapped Ms Everard from a south London street before raping and murdering her.

In Scotland, members of the public can now request a control room check.

The “horrendous murder of Sarah Everard” has sparked “understandable public concern,” according to Police Scotland.

The force stated that its officers normally worked in pairs, but that in the future, if a lone officer approached a member of the public, they would “proactively” offer an identity check.

The officer’s personal radio will be turned on loudspeaker under the new procedure so that another officer or a member of control room staff can confirm they are who they say they are, that they are on duty, and the reason the officer is speaking to them.

The control room will then generate an incident number that will be displayed on the officer’s mobile phone or radio to confirm the details of the broadcast message.

If a lone officer is involved in an incident, they will dial 999 and allow the public to speak directly to control room personnel.

“The appalling circumstances of Sarah Everard’s murder have deeply affected people, and many are now understandably concerned about verifying an officer’s identity,” said Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr.

“Of course, police officers will continue to approach members of the public who appear distressed or vulnerable in order to offer support and assistance.”

“However, while it is unusual for a lone police officer in Scotland to have to speak to a member of the public, we fully recognise our responsibility to introduce an additional means of verification to provide additional reassurance to anyone, particularly women, who may feel vulnerable and concerned if they find themselves in this situation.”

“It is our responsibility as a police service to offer this additional verification process to any member of the public who appears distressed, vulnerable, or fearful.”

Couzens was sentenced to life in prison for murdering Ms Everard, 33, on a south London street in March.

He tricked her into being handcuffed with his police warrant card, then drove her to Kent and raped and murdered her. In a premeditated attack on a random victim, he later burned her remains.

The full scope of his crimes were only revealed during his sentencing last week, sparking national outrage and calls for greater action to combat violence against women.

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