A man posing as a police officer tried to arrest a lone woman in a car park

·2-min read
Photo credit: Hirurg - Getty Images
Photo credit: Hirurg - Getty Images

A 44-year-old man from Cumbria has been jailed after he posed as a police officer and attempted to "arrest" a lone woman in a carpark.

On Tuesday (5 October) evening, the woman was approached by Gary Shepherd, who was wearing a blue lanyard that had 'police' written on it. Shepherd claimed he was arresting the woman for drug dealing, but when she approached a passerby for help, he fled the scene.

Shortly after the incident, Shepherd was apprehended by police and taken into custody. Just two days later, on Thursday (7 October), he pled guilty to impersonating a police officer and common assault at Barrow Magistrates’ Court. After entering his plea, Shepherd was jailed for 22 weeks.

In a statement, Superintendent for South Cumbria, Matt Pearman, said the incident "must have been extremely frightening for the victim, particularly coming so soon after the sentencing of Wayne Couzens last week."

Pearman added: "Our officers recognised the seriousness of the incident swiftly and were able to quickly arrest Shepherd, who, less than 48 hours after the initial incident, is now starting a significant prison sentence."

The incident comes just a week after Wayne Couzens was handed a whole-life sentence for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard in March of this year. Couzens, who was a serving Metropolitan Police Officer at the time, exploited his position by falsely arresting Sarah as she walked home from a friend's house in Clapham, London.

Details of Couzens' actions came to light during his sentencing hearing, where the jury saw CCTV footage of his interaction with Sarah.

In the wake of Sarah's murder, Cumbria Police announced a new initiative that would enable members of the public to confirm the identities of lone officers. When asked, Cumbria Police officers will now provide their collar number and contact the control room using their radio to confirm their identity, as well as their location, whether they're supposed to be on duty and the reason they are speaking to the person in question.

Speaking about the new process, Chief Constable Michelle Skeer said in a statement: "The facts of how Sarah Everard died have shocked and appalled us all. It is truly horrifying that a police officer could abuse their position and their powers to carry out such abhorrent crimes."

She continued, "We fully understand that this has impacted confidence in policing and may also cause concerns for others when they encounter a lone police officer."

"This new verification process will hopefully reassure people that when they encounter one of our officers, they are speaking to an officer who is carrying out a legitimate and professional policing response."

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