Police statement following sentencing of Wayne Couzens

From Devon & Cornwall Police:

Devon & Cornwall Police is reassuring its communities following the sentencing of former police officer Wayne Couzens for the murder of Sarah Everard.

The Force recognises confidence in policing, particularly from women and girls, has been rocked by this tragedy and the actions of Wayne Couzens.

But Devon & Cornwall is committed to building upon the trust and respect we already have with our communities to ensure all, particularly women, children and the most vulnerable, feel safe and are safe in our counties.

Deputy Chief Constable Jim Colwell said: “Following events in London, the sentencing of Sarah Everard’s murderer cannot remove the pain and suffering of her family or loved ones. Our thoughts are firstly with them.

“We know confidence in policing, particularly from women and girls has been significantly impacted  by this tragedy and the thought that a serving officer abused his position and turned against everything we are here to do is sickening. Wayne Couzens has betrayed everything we stand for.

“We must and will continue to work harder with every part of the justice system and the communities we serve to rebuild trust and make our streets as safe as possible for women and girls.

“The actions of Wayne Couzens were a terrible abuse of power and do not represent policing.  Police officers and staff who want to protect the public are as shocked and angered by this man’s crimes as much as all of our communities will be.”

Communities should be reassured that police officer’s will always look to verify their identity when engaging with member of the public.

Deputy Chief Constable Colwell added: “We understand how concerning the actions of Couzens were and the desire to know how to verify an officers’ identity.

“Police officers always carry identification and can always be asked for verification. They are used to providing that reassurance.

“Police officers will not always be in uniform, but it would be extremely unusual for an officer in plain clothes to be working alone. If they are, they should be calling for assistance with other officers arriving very soon to support them to help you if you are in need.

“In light of the actions of Wayne Couzens it is right that police officers expect and are tolerant of those who wish to be further reassured. They will want to explain and reassure who they are, what they are doing and why – that must only expected and respected from our communities.”

If people feel they cannot verify an officer’s identity or feel in imminent danger you must seek assistance, if that means shouting out to another member of the public, flagging a car down or even dialling 999 then we would ask proportionate steps be taken.

Deputy Chief Constable Colwell said: “We and our communities must not forget we have come into policing to keep the public safe and we do it because we care about people.

“Policing locally and nationally will do everything it can, including being part of the wider discussion taking place in society today, so that women and girls feel safe on their own streets.”

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