Sarah Everard: North Yorkshire PCC resigns after ‘streetwise’ comments

A police commissioner whose comments following the murder of Sarah Everard caused a national outcry has resigned.

Philip Allott, who was North Yorkshire police, fire and crime commissioner, said he wanted to "restore confidence in the office".

Mr Allott tendered his resignation in an open letter to the chief executive of Selby District Council and police area returning officer.

He had been accused of victim blaming after he said in a radio interview that women should be more "streetwise" about powers of arrest and that Ms Everard, whose family live in York, should not have "submitted" to arrest by her killer Wayne Couzens, a serving police officer.

Sarah Everard was murdered on her way home from a friend's house in Clapham in March

Mr Allott said he apologised "unreservedly" for his remarks, adding "they do not reflect my views".

He said: "I misspoke and I am devastated at the effect that this has had on victims of crime and the groups that support them. 

"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."

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Allott received a formal vote of no confidence from local politicians.

‘You have no credibility’

The panel had received 121 complaints and Mr Allott’s office more than 800, the panel heard.

The Prime Minister was said to have been "outraged" by Mr Allott’s comments.

All 11 members of the North Yorkshire Fire and Crime Panel, made up of local politicians and two independent members of the public, gave him a vote of no confidence in continuing in his role.

Martin Walker, a retired district judge and independent member of the panel, told him: "You talked about regaining your credibility.

"You have no credibility."

Councillor Tim Grogan, a retired detective, said Mr Allott’s comments were "lamentable" for an individual, "but as a commissioner, with the seriousness of that role, frankly, they were unforgivable, at best naive, crass even, at worst wrong-headed, misguided".

Panel chairman Councillor Carl Les had added: "Only you can judge the damage done, only you can resign.

"We cannot make you, we can only make recommendations, and there is a frustration in that.

"But I think you should consider your position now."

An acting PCC will be chosen from his staff until a by-election is held for the £74,400 role.

Philip Allott’s resignation letter, in full

Over the past two weeks I have tried to rebuild trust and confidence in my work as York and North Yorkshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.  

I needed to do that following comments I made on an interview with Radio York regarding the horrific abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard. 

I need to be clear.  I apologise unreservedly for my remarks. They do not reflect my views.  

I mis-spoke and I am devastated at the effect that this has had on victims of crime and the groups that support them. 

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. 

I had hoped I could rebuild trust, to restore confidence.  

I was pleased that so many victims groups had accepted that I was genuinely sorry and were willing to work with me to help me in the mammoth task I had ahead. 

Following this morning’s meeting of the Police and Crime Panel it seems clear to me that the task will be exceptionally difficult, if it is possible at all.  

It would take a long time and a lot of resources of my office and the many groups who do excellent work supporting victims. This is time victims do not have.  

There are women and girls in York and North Yorkshire today suffering at the hands of men.  

Victims and the groups who support them need to be heard.  

They cannot be heard if the airwaves are filled with discussion about my future. 

That is why I am doing the honourable thing and resigning as Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner – to restore confidence in the office which I believe will be almost impossible for me to do, and to enable victims’ voices to be heard clearly without the distraction of the continued furore which surrounds me. 

I entered public life because I wanted to make a difference. I still do. So, I am committing myself to doing all I can as a private individual to support victims groups.  

The pledge I made as Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner was genuine. It is one I will keep. 

I would like to thank my office and especially my Chief Executive for his help and support, especially during the last two weeks which has been a challenging time for everyone at the OPFCC. 

Whoever the new Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner will be I wish them every success in what is one of the most demanding but rewarding jobs in the UK. 

Yours sincerely,

Philip Allott

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