A man in Cumbria has been jailed for impersonating a police officer and attempting to ‘arrest’ a woman.
Cumbria Police arrested 44-year-old Gary Shepherd this week after he approached a woman in a car park in Barrow while wearing a blue lanyard with ‘police’ written on the strap.
At around 6.30pm BST on Tuesday, October 5, Shepherd told the woman she was being arrested for drug dealing.
When a member of the public responded to the woman’s request for help and challenged Shepherd about his claims, the 44-year-old left the scene.
Following his arrest, police said Shepherd initially denied being in the area of Greengate car park when the incident took place. In his second police interview, he admitted to his actions but claimed they had been a ‘joke’, The Independent reports.
On Thursday, Shepherd pleaded guilty to impersonating a police officer and common assault at Barrow Magistrates’ Court. He received a sentence of 22 weeks behind bars and a fine of £85, as well as being ordered to pay costs of £128. Magistrates have also activated a previously suspended four-week prison sentence, according to the police force.
Commenting on Shepherd’s arrest, Pearman said:
To be approached in this way by someone falsely claiming to be a police officer must have been extremely frightening for the victim, particularly coming so soon after the sentencing of Wayne Couzens last week.
Our officers recognised the seriousness of this 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.
On the day of Shepherd’s sentencing, Cumbria Police announced it would adopt Scotland’s new process for members of the public to confirm the identities of lone officers, which involves officers providing their collar number to anyone who asks and contacting the control room on the police radio to confirm their identity, location, that they are on duty and the reason they are speaking to someone.
Chief Constable Michelle Skeer said:
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. We fully understand that this has impacted confidence in policing and may also cause concerns for others when they encounter a lone police officer.
All of our police officers carry a Cumbria Constabulary identification card. However, we absolutely recognise our responsibility to introduce an additional means of verification to provide further reassurance to anyone, including women who may feel vulnerable.
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.
In the wake of Couzens’ crimes, the Metropolitan police last week issued advice for what women should do if they do not trust a male officer, including questioning the officer’s identity, seeking assistance from a passerby or calling 999.
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