Police: What to do if stopped by an officer you don't trust

People in the crowd turn on their phone torches as they gather in Clapham Common, London, after the

A vigil held in memory of marketing executive Sarah Everard - Credit: PA Wire

Women in Suffolk have been advised to flag down a car or call 999 in extreme cases if they are stopped by a police officer they do not trust. 

Suffolk Constabulary has issued a statement in the wake of the sentence of former Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens for the murder of 33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard. 

Couzens, 48, who used his warrant card to trick Ms Everard into his car before raping and killing her, was handed a whole-life order at the Old Bailey on Thursday. 

Undated family handout photo of Sarah Everard issued by the Crown Prosecution Service. Police office

Suffolk police has issued a statement after Wayne Couzens was sentenced for the murder of Sarah Everard - Credit: PA

Suffolk police said it would be reviewing practices around plain-clothes officers but advised anyone with concerns to alert a passerby, flag down a vehicle, or dial 999. 

The force added that it is "extremely unusual" for a plain-clothes officer to be working alone, but stressed that officers can be asked for verification. 

A spokesman for the force said: “The public’s trust and confidence is of paramount importance to Suffolk Constabulary.

“Following the sentencing of Wayne Couzens, we will be looking at our practices to see if there is anything we can do to provide further reassurance to the public if they are approached by a plain clothes officer.

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“At this stage we would reiterate police officers always carry identification and can be asked for verification.

"It is extremely unusual for a plain clothes officer to be working alone. If they are, standard practice is for them to call for assistance and other officers should arrive quickly.

“Officers should be tolerant of those who wish for reassurance and explain who they are, what they are doing and why.

"If people are still suspicious they should alert a passer-by, flag a car down, or, in extreme cases, dial 999.”

Former Met Police officer Wayne Couzens admitted murder, kidnap and rape.

Former Met Police officer Wayne Couzens admitted murder, kidnap and rape. - Credit: PA

Suffolk Constabulary's statement comes after policing minister Kit Malthouse said forces around the country will have to work "much harder" to win back public trust following Ms Everard's murder. 

He said the case had struck a "devastating blow to the confidence that people have in police officers", and he warned thousands of officers will need to do more so trust can be rebuilt.

Ms Everard's death prompted a national debate around women's safety with calls for authorities to do more to protect women and girls. 

Speaking this week, Superintendent Kerry Cutler said police in Suffolk "cannot tackle violence against women and girls alone".