Police Scotland create lone officer verification check after Sarah Everard death

Scots police bosses have introduced an officer verification check for lone officers on-duty in the wake of the brutal murder of Sarah Everard.

Serving Met Police officer Wayne Couzens falsely arrested Sarah before raping and killing her, then burning her body in woodland.

He was sentenced to life in prison this week.

Wayne Couzens was a serving police officer who used his knowledge of Covid patrols to stop Sarah Everard

Police Scotland say the introduction of a new system will allow worried members of the public to check with the control room and verify if police officer approaching them is a real cop.

A statement released tonight reads: “The move follows the understandable public concern surrounding the horrendous murder of Sarah Everard.

“On duty officers operating on their own will now proactively offer to carry out a verification check for anyone they come across who appears to be concerned for their safety. A member of the public can also request that a verification check be done.

“Although police officers normally work in pairs in Scotland and it is very rare for a lone police officer to approach a member of the public, there are occasions when this could happen.

“The new process, introduced on Saturday, 2 October, will allow for the officer’s personal radio to be put on loudspeaker and for an officer or member of police staff in a Police Scotland Control Room to confirm that the officer is who they say they are, that they are on duty and the reason the officer is speaking to the member of the public.

“The Control Room will then create an incident number which can be displayed on the officer’s mobile phone or radio to confirm the broadcast message details.”

The new system will also allow for off-duty officers to be recognised.

The statement adds: “In the even rarer situation where a lone off-duty officer has to become involved in an incident, the officer will call 999 and allow the member of the public to speak to the control room on the phone.

“Uniformed colleagues will also be dispatched as quickly as possible.”

London’s Metropolitan Police have been hit with criticism after it was suggested anyone uncomfortable being approached by an officer ‘wave down a bus or taxi’ for help.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IOPC) is currently investigating The Met for its alleged failure to investigate two flashing incidents attributed to Couzens, which reportedly occurred at a McDonald’s in south London, just three days before he kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah.

Pressure has been heaped on Met chief Cassandra Dick after it was claimed Couzen’s had been nicknamed ‘the rapist’ prior to the murder.

Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr said following Sarah’s murder he understood that people wanted to ensure their safety.

He said: “Our officers work, on a daily basis and across every community in Scotland, with absolute professionalism to protect the vulnerable and keep people safe in line with our core values of integrity, fairness and respect and a commitment to upholding human rights. Public confidence and consent is critical to our legitimacy, and our ability to keep our communities and citizens safe.

“The appalling circumstances of Sarah Everard’s murder have deeply affected people and many are now understandably concerned about verifying an officer’s identity.

“Police Officers will, of course, continue to approach any member of the public who appears distressed or vulnerable, to offer support and assistance.

“However, although it is rare for a lone police officer to have to speak to a member of the public in Scotland, we absolutely recognise our responsibility to introduce an additional means of verification to provide further reassurance to anyone, in particular women who may feel vulnerable, and who might be concerned if they find themselves in this situation.

“The onus is on us, as a police service, to proactively offer this additional verification process to any member of the public who appears distressed, vulnerable or frightened.

“Police officers always carry photographic identification and will be happy to provide further reassurance about who they are and their reason for speaking with someone if requested.”

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