Sarah Everard: Forth Valley police chief -‘onus on us’ to show public can trust us
A police chief says officers are “outraged” over the murder of Sarah Everard and are determined to reassure the public “we’re on their side.”
Forth Valley Chief Superintendent Alan Gibson said he was clear that “the onus is on us” to reassure people that the police can be trusted, after the shocking kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer in London.
Speaking at a meeting of Falkirk Council’s scrutiny committee this week, he said that Police Scotland had already put in place procedures that they hoped would help.
Now, anyone who is concerned about either the identity of a police officer or their motives can request them to contact the control room on the radio.
The officer will then have to broadcast a message identifying who they are, what they are doing and why they are doing it.
Met police officer Wayne Couzens was sentenced to a whole-life prison term last month for the murder and abduction of Sarah Everard. He falsely arrested Miss Everard over made up allegations about breaching Covid guidelines.
Chief Superintendent Gibson said: “We want to give people an opportunity to challenge officers where they feel that is appropriate – the onus is on us to reassure particularly lone females that that individual is genuine and their motives are genuine.”
He added: “We are as outraged as anybody else, to be frank – the vast, vast majority of police officers will be utterly outraged by what happened.
“It causes us as much concern as it does anybody on this call.”
He said that in Scotland most police officers work in pairs, which is in itself very different to England and Wales, and he hoped that would “go some way” to reassuring people.
He added that the force has also instigated a new form of vetting for all officers.
He said: “Again, it is never going to be absolutely fool-proof and watertight but it’s a further check and balance to make sure that folk that work for us are vetted on a more regular basis, to try and establish any behaviours that might be of concern to us.”
Falkirk Area Commander Craig Walker added: “These things have been put in place and I’ll be pushing this out locally so that I know that every officer under my command is fully aware of the expectations.”
He stressed it was not something he took lightly as he was aware of how any incidents when police officers did not follow protocol would impact community confidence.
Chief Inspector Walker added: “I’m proud of being a police officer and I want to continue to say that, so that’s why these things hit home really strongly with us.
“Any further guidance that comes out, with things that we can do to help to reassure the public that we’re on their side and we’re doing the right thing, I will make sure I use my position here to reinforce that.”
The police were also questioned about recent publicity surrounding a female firearms officer who won a tribunal following ‘horrific’ behaviour from male colleagues.
Chief Superintendent Gibson said it was not behaviour he would tolerate in Forth Valley.