Voices across the Labour movement are calling for the resignation of the North Yorkshire’s Conservative Police Fire and Crime Commissioner Philip Allott, after comments he made in an interview with the BBC over the Sarah Everard case have drawn widespread condemnation across the political spectrum.
Speaking on BBC Radio York, Allott said that women needed to be “streetwise about when you can be arrested and when you can’t be arrested,” that Everard “never should have submitted,” and that women need to “learn a little bit about the legal process.” After his words caused a furore, he initially posted a tweet claiming that he wasn’t victim blaming, before deleting that tweet and posting an apology and retraction when he presumably realised his position was untenable.
Labour’s candidate in May’s election, Alison Hume, called for Allott to step down with immediate effect.
“The victim blaming comments made today… are both shocking and offensive,” she said. “His cruel observation that Sarah should not have ‘submitted’ to the arrest by a police officer made the hairs stand up on my neck. Who wouldn’t have done what they were told when shown a valid warrant card by a serving police officer? Sarah Everard did what any law abiding citizen would have done. It is beyond belief that Mr Allott would suggest anything to the contrary. The fact that Sarah came from the area Mr Allott was elected to represent make his comments even more grotesque.”
Labour’s York Central MP Rachael Maskell also called Mr Allott’s position untenable.
“Women are not feeling safe on our streets,” she said, “and it is for the police, including the police and crime commissioners to make sure we feel safer.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “He should go. I can’t think of a more inappropriate thing for a police and crime commissioner to say at any time, but at this time in particular. He should consider his position.” Other voices from across the political world, including Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Reclaim the Streets campaigner Lucy Arnold who organised a vigil for Sarah at York Minster, have also expressed their horror at his insensitive words.
Ms Hume went on to say; “Women have lost faith in the police. The vast majority of survivors of sexual violence and assault never report to police, and it’s not hard to understand why. The charge rate for domestic abuse related crime in North Yorkshire in 2019-20 was just 4%, compared to 9% in England and Wales as a whole. Mr Allott already had a huge job on his hands when he was elected, and it is clear from today that he simply isn’t up to it. Violence against women and girls is at epidemic proportions in York and North Yorkshire. How can Mr Allott hold the police force to account on our behalf with views which suggest women are somehow responsible for what happens to us at the hands of violent men? His hurried apology is simply not enough. I call on Philip Allott to resign with immediate effect.”