A police commissioner has outlined a range of measures being launched following the murder of York marketing executive Sarah Everard, including a new service to “get to grips” with the motivations of peristent offenders as early as possible.
North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Philip Allott said rapist and killer Wayne Couzens would have been identified by the forthcoming North Yorkshire Police early prevention and intervention scheme and it “could well have potentially saved a life”.
Mr Allott was speaking to North Yorkshire County Council’s Thirsk and Malton constituency committee as the Met Police faces questions over whether it missed chances to stop Couzens while he worked as a firearms officer and how the 48-year-old had been deemed suitable to become a police constable.
The committee’s chair, Councillor Caroline Goodrick, asked the commissioner if he was satisfied the North Yorkshire force’s selection process was sufficiently robust, and in particular with enough background checks, to ensure public confidence in the police service.
Mr Allott said while police vetting of candidates was already “extremely thorough”, he and other police commissioners would be discussing what more can be done at a meeting with the Home Secretary on Monday.
He told councillors: “There was two sentences handed out. One to the family who will never see their daughter again and the other one to the perpeptator where, thankfully, the judge has thrown away the key.”
Mr Allott said he had authorised funding for a early prevention and intervention scheme to be launched in about three months’ time which would target persistent offenders who have committed up to two crimes.
He said officers were currently being trained to “really get to grips” with why persistent criminals were committing offences and to offer diversary activities. He added the scheme would involve public health work “because if we can break that cycle we will not only save the public purse fortune in terms of locking people up, we will actually stop them reoffending”.
Mr Allott said if Couzens had been part of the new North Yorkshire scheme his behaviour would have been picked up and seen him suspended. He said only when an investigation is satisfied would an officer be put back onto the frontline of the force.
He said: “One of the damning statistics is that a murderer typically commits up to seven crime before they go on to commit murder. It’s a telling aspect of the Sarah Everard case that the perpetrator of those crimes had committed a number of less serious crimes leading up to her horrific murder. Had early intervention and prevention been there that could well have potentially saved a life.”
To improve women’s safety, Mr Allott said, a North Yorkshire and York women and girls strategy “designed by women for women” was currently being developed with Yorkshire domestic abuse charity IDAS and other women’s groups.
He said work was also underway to secure government funding for more CCTV cameras and extra street lighting, while businesses in the area, such as takeaways and late-night shops, would be trained on how to look after women seeking safe refuges as they walk home. In addition, he said an educational campaign would see boys given lessons in school about respect for women.