Sarah Everard: Commissioner Philip Allott hit by no-confidence vote

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Image source, Conservative Party
Image caption, Philip Allott was told he should "consider his position" by the panel he reports to

A vote of no confidence has been passed in a police boss whose comments about the Sarah Everard case sparked outrage.

North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Philip Allott said women needed to be "streetwise" following Ms Everard's murder by a police officer.

At a meeting of the panel he reports to, members took turns to urge him to resign and unanimously backed the no-confidence motion.

Mr Allott apologised again but insisted he could "regain people's trust".

The county's Police, Fire and Crime panel - made up of nine local politicians and two independent members of the public - has no power to remove Mr Allott.

But the group urged him to step down following his "damaging" remarks.

Selby District Councillor Tim Grogan, a former police officer, said the commissioner's comments would have been "lamentable" regardless of who said them.

But, given Mr Allott's position they were "frankly... unforgivable, at best naive, crass even, at worst wrong-headed, misguided", he said.

"I believe your position is unsustainable. Go - and go now," he added.

Panel chairman Councillor Carl Les 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."

Mr Allott told the meeting that nothing would ever get done if everyone resigned and he believed he could regain people's trust.

This was one of the more compelling local government meetings I've watched over the years.

Over the course of a couple of hours, councillors from across North Yorkshire unmuted to have their say on Philip Allott's comments. They roundly condemned them.

A unanimous vote of no confidence and the panel's request for Philip Allott to resign does not mean he has to. The panel does not have that power. In fact, no-one does.

The panel is now writing to the Home Office to ask for powers of recall for police commissioners to be introduced.

As it stands, the decision is firmly in Mr Allott's hands.

Attending the meeting remotely from his office, he accepted that his answer to a BBC Radio York interview question was "a car crash".

"I would like to apologise for the impact of that answer to Sarah Everard's family and all the victims of violence," he said.

Mr Allott said tensions had been high since the furore over his remarks, and accused the media of "raking over a major mistake" with continued coverage.

He told the panel he was undertaking training to help him better understand issues around women's safety and the reaction to his comments.

"As all of North Yorkshire knows, it was wrong, entirely misconceived (and) grossly insensitive," he said.

"It is not for women or girls to protect themselves, it's for men not to harass, intimidate, assault and murder women.

More than 800 complaints were made to his office after he told BBC Radio York women should know "when they can be arrested and when they can't be arrested". The panel also received 121 complaints.

Conservative Mr Allott made the comments after it emerged serving Met Police officer Wayne Couzens had used his warrant card to falsely arrest Ms Everard for breaching coronavirus guidelines.

Image source, Everard family
Image caption, Sarah Everard, originally from York, was killed by serving police officer Wayne Couzens after he falsely arrested her

The vote follows a letter from almost all of the commissioner's staff saying he had brought the office into "disrepute" with his "misogynistic" remarks.

In the letter, staff said they were "shocked" a person holding his office "could hold, let alone voice, such misogynistic views".

Employees said his words had undermined their work and impacted upon their relationships with colleagues working for the county's police force and fire service.

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