Work must be done to rebuild public trust

Alert message sent 01/10/2021 11:55:00

Information sent on behalf of Wiltshire Police


Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson has pledged to work with Wiltshire’s Chief Constable to restore the public’s trust in policing in the wake of the sentencing of Sarah Everard’s murderer.

In the week after Mr Wilkinson supported whole scale change across the criminal justice system to tackle the epidemic of violence against women and girls, he said Sarah's horrific murder at the hands of a serving police officer had eroded public faith.

The country has been left reeling after footage was released during the sentencing showing marketing executive Sarah being falsely arrested and handcuffed before being placed in a car and driven to her death, in March this year.

Mr Wilkinson said: “If we are truly serious about tackling this abhorrent culture of violence then we need to ensure changes are made, if necessary, and these changes need to start at ‘home’.

“We must do better to protect women and girls. We must break this epidemic of violence.”

Mr Wilkinson added: “This was a heinous crime: Wayne Couzens abused his position of authority, used his warrant card and exploited lockdown laws to stop Sarah under false pretences, kidnap and subject her to the most horrific assault and murder.

“It is almost too much to bear when you realise concerns had been raised about his behaviour by former colleagues and opportunities to stop him had potentially been missed.”

Mr Wilkinson said he recognised residents would, quite rightly, be asking questions of their own police forces as a result and would work with Wiltshire’s Chief Constable to answer those questions and rebuild trust.

He added all employees – officers, staff and volunteers – should take responsibility and report concerns, if they have them about their colleagues, and anyone who reports concerns should have faith they will be investigated fully with action taken where necessary.

“I want Wiltshire’s residents to feel safer,” he said. “Our residents want more police officers and more visible policing on the county’s streets. All of that will be in vain if residents don’t trust the police service.

“The public deserve to know those providing their policing service are being held to the highest standards and where concerns are raised within an organisation, they are taken seriously and acted upon.

“I’ll ask for that reassurance on their behalf and if existing policies and procedures can be improved or need to be tightened up, then we will ensure those changes are made.

“We can’t ask other organisations to change in order to help us fight the growing violence against women and girls if we aren’t prepared to look at ourselves too.

“I know our officers, staff and volunteers are all exceptional, and I know that you cannot tar an entire workforce because of another person’s crime, but the public are rightly concerned.

“One man’s depraved actions has struck a devastating blow to the unique bond between policing and the public – we must rebuild that."
Message sent by
Zara-Ann Prendergast (OPCC, Campaign & Communications Manager, Wiltshire)

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