UK police boss quits after comments about murder victim

U.S. and World

LONDON (AP) — A British police chief resigned Thursday after sparking an outcry with comments he made about how women should be more “streetwise” when he spoke about the abduction, rape and murder of a woman by a police officer.

Philip Allott stepped down as North Yorkshire police, fire and crime commissioner after being accused of misogyny and victim blaming for comments he made in a radio interview in the aftermath of the sentencing of London police officer Wayne Couzens.

Couzens was convicted last month of tricking 33-year-old Sarah Everard into his car by arresting her on the pretext of breaking COVID-19 lockdown rules, then raping and murdering her.

In the BBC interview earlier this month, Allott said women “need to be streetwise about when they can be arrested and they can’t be arrested.” He said Everard should “never have been arrested and submitted to that.”

The comments have outraged many women as well as those working in police and fire services, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the comments were “wrong-headed” and “totally the opposite” of what was needed.

The comments were particularly criticized because they were made as British police came under intense scrutiny after Couzens’ conviction. Cressida Dick, Britain’s most senior police chief, has herself come under pressure to resign and acknowledged that police must work hard to regain the trust of women and the communities they serve.

Allott, who had already apologized and retracted the comments, resigned after his staff gave him a vote of no-confidence Thursday.

“I misspoke and I am devastated at the effect that this has had on victims of crime and the groups that support them,” he said.

He added that he wanted “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 furor which surrounds me.”

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