Philip Allott, the Conservative Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, has resigned following a vote of no confidence.
There had been a chorus of calls for the senior police chief to resign over comments he made suggesting that women “need to be streetwise” and “learn a bit about the legal process” in a discussion about the Sarah Everard case.
His comments were widely criticised and a petition was launched calling for his resignation.
Allott said today that he had decided to resign as the “furore” around him had made it “almost impossible” to restore confidence in his office.
What did Philip Allott say about the Sarah Everard case?
Allott made the comments during a discussion following the sentencing of former Met police officer Wayne Couzens, on BBC Radio York.
The discussion took place following new details of the case which had emerged from the trial, about how Couzens kidnapped Everard by falsely claiming she was under arrest for breaching Covid guidelines.
Allott said women should be aware this was not an indictable offence, meaning it would not be considered serious enough to warrant a prison sentence or crown court hearing.
He said: "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.
"Perhaps women need to consider in terms of the legal process, to just learn a bit about that legal process".
Allot’s comments were met at the time with anger by Lucy Arnold, a campaigner who organised a vigil for Sarah Everard in York.
"I think frankly that was a horrifically offensive thing to say," she said.
"Does anyone really feel like they can stand up to a police officer? I am very confident I know my rights, I know the law, but no I wouldn’t feel confident at all."
The comments prompted fury on social media and drew criticism from a number of politicians.
Following the outcry on social media, Allott apologised for his comments and retracted them.
In a now-deleted Tweet, he said: “Nobody is blaming the victim.
“What I am saying is that we need to inform women far better of their rights, something I intend to action here in North Yorkshire ASAP.”
He later 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.”
What did he say in his resignation statement?
In a statement today (14 October), Mr Allott said: “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.”
He continued: “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.”
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