Open letter calls for police boss to resign for ‘victim blaming’ Sarah Everard comments
An open letter has called for a police boss to resign for “victim blaming” comments he made about the murder of Sarah Everard.
The letter, on behalf of Stand Up to Domestic Abuse, condemned the Conservative North Yorkshire Police Crime Commissioner Philip Allot after he suggested that women should be more streetwise about what they can be arrested for.
In his comments, which were widely criticised, he claimed Sarah Everard should never have submitted to arrest by the police officer to snatched her. The former police officer who kidnapped Ms Everard from a busy London street in March was handed a whole life sentence.
The signatories of the letter include Rachel Williams, who founded Stand Up to Domestic Abuse after being was shot and severely injured by her violent partner in 2011, Arfon Jones, the former North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, and the actor Michael Sheen.
It was sent to the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel, which it urged to take action on the matter.
The letter says: “We write this open letter to you as professionals involved in representing and safeguarding women and girls who are or are likely to be subjected to male violence here in Wales and England.
“We were appalled to read of Mr Philip Allott’s sexist comments about Sarah Everard following the sentencing of Wayne Couzens for her murder.
“Mr Allott’s comments of ‘victim blaming’ were from a bygone age and wholly inappropriate language from an elected Police and Crime Commissioner tasked by the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice to lead and progress work and implement the Victim’s Code of Practise.
“Whilst Mr Allot did apologise, it was too little too late and immense damage had been done. In short, we believe that Mr Allott’s comments have brought the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner into disrepute and that he should resign.
“We therefore ask that North Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel take this letter as a formal complaint and we ask that you take the appropriate action. This letter has been shared with the Independent Office of Police Conduct.”
Allott was speaking on BBC Radio York when he said “women should be aware this was not an indictable offence – one considered serious enough to warrant a prison sentence or crown court hearing.
“So, women, first of all, 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,” he said.
“Perhaps women need to consider in terms of the legal process, to just learn a bit about that legal process”.
After the furious outcry on social media, he tweeted: “I would like to wholeheartedly apologise for my comments on BBC radio York earlier today, which I realise have been insensitive and wish to retract them in full.”
The other signatories of the letter are:
- Harriet Wistrich – Founder of Centre of Womens Justice, Solicitor, Winner of the Liberty Human Rights Lawyer of the Year award 2014, Legal Aid Lawyer of the year 2018 and Law Society Gazette personality of the year 2019. Harriet has acted in many high-profile cases around violence against women including on behalf of women who challenged the police and parole board in the John
- Michael Sheen – Actor and Patron of SUTDA
- Prof Jane Monckton Smith – Professor of Public Protection at Gloucestershire University. Homicide
- David Challen – Domestic Abuse Campaigner, Ambassador for Prison Advice
- France Beecher – CEO of Llamau
- Julie Bindel – Author, Journalist, Broadcaster and Researcher
- Nicola Sharp-Jeffs – Founder & CEO of SEA (Surviving Economic Abuse)
- Michelle Whelan – CEO CalanDVS
- Shona Priddey – Criminologist and Court Magistrate
- Mark Hegarty – Founder of WCID (What Can I Do?)
- Clare Walker – Founder of Clare Walker Consulting LTD (Domestic Abuse Consultant)
- Maria Gallagher – Director of Feminist Law Society
- Cathy Press – Founder & CEO of Escape the Trap, Awareness Matters, Who’s in Charge?