North Yorkshire’s police boss has resigned after saying women needed to be “streetwise” following Sarah Everard’s murder by a police officer.
Philip Allott has handed in his resignation as North Yorkshire police, fire and crime commissioner after a panel he reports to urged him to quit, with all 11 members backing a no-confidence motion in him.
A fortnight before, the Conservative told BBC Radio York that women should know “when they can be arrested and when they can’t be arrested”, during a conversation about Met Police officer Wayne Couzens using his warrant card to falsely arrest Ms Everard for breaching coronavirus guidelines.
Couzens then went on to rape and murder Ms Everard before burning her body in a fridge.
Mr Allott’s comments prompted more than 800 complaints to the radio station and 121 complaints to the panel.
In an open letter tendering his resignation, Mr Allott said he had “tried to rebuild trust and confidence in my work” after “unreservedly” apologising for his comments, but after the panel meeting “it seems clear to me that the task will be exceptionally difficult, if it is possible at all”.
The police chief, who was elected five months before, told the radio station: “A police officer can’t just arrest you. There has to be a reason. So, COVID, for example, I would classify as a summary offence, it’s not an indictable i.e. sent to prison or potentially go to a Crown Court.
“So women first of all just need to be streetwise about when they can be arrested and when they can’t be arrested.
“She should never have been arrested and submitted to that.”
In his resignation letter, Mr Allott added that he “misspoke”, the comments “do not reflect my view”, and he is “devastated at the effect that this has had on victims of crime”.
“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,” he wrote.
He said it would take “a long time and a lot of resources” to rebuild trust in him, which is “time victims do not have”, so he was “doing the honourable thing and resigning” as he thinks it will be “almost impossible” for him to rebuild trust in the office.
Mr Allott originally refused to step down, despite admitting it was a “car crash of an answer”, as he said if everyone resigned who made a mistake in an interview “nothing would ever get done in this country”.
He had said he thought he could regain the public’s trust and that he wanted to continue with his job despite “emotions running incredibly high”.
The day before his resignation, the majority of his staff signed a letter saying they have no confidence in him and his comments brought his office into “disrepute”.
North Yorkshire’s police, fire and crime panel chair, Carl Les, said: “We welcome the fact that the views of the panel have been taken on board and that Mr Allott has listened to the public and the vast majority of his staff.
“We will convene a special meeting of the panel to appoint an interim Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, while arrangements are put in place for the election of a new commissioner at the appropriate time.
“We hope the news of Mr Allott’s resignation means the focus looking ahead will be on the needs of victims of crime and specifically initiatives which will help all women and young girls to be safe and protected here and across the country.”
Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said it was “absolutely right” that Mr Allott resigned, condemning his comments as “appalling” and “awful”.
The Conservatives should have forced him to step aside, he added.