Image Credit: Graham Mitchell
On Thursday 14 October, Philip Allott, the Conservative and North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, resigned. All eleven members of the Police, Fire and Crime Panel unanimously voted no confidence in the commissioner. The panel had no official power to remove him but sent a clear message that Allott no longer retained the trust of his colleagues.
On 1 October, Allott told BBC Radio York that “women, first of all, need to be streetwise about when they can be arrested and when they can't be arrested. She should never have been arrested and submitted to that."
He then added that "Perhaps women need to consider in terms of the legal process, to just learn a bit about that legal process".
This was in response to revelations in the Sarah Everard case that Wayne Couzens was a police officer and had arrested her on the night of her murder. Allott came under serious scrutiny for these comments, with accusations that he fails to understand the problem of women’s safety. This has become a national political issue in the past year given increased femicides across the country.
Allott retracted and apologised for his comments at the time, saying that they “were both misconceived and insensitive and have caused upset and distress.”
This did not stop criticisms from fellow politicians - including the Prime Minister. While attending the Conservative Party conference, Oliver Dowden, Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party, told Sky News that “the prime minister and I were outraged by what he said.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was quick to lead calls for the commissioner to resign immediately and yesterday said that “He’s quite right to go and should have gone two weeks ago.”
Allott resigned as the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner yesterday afternoon (14 October), just hours after the no-confidence vote. He apologised once again for his remarks and wrote that he “hoped [he] could rebuild trust” and that conversations and victims of violence against women and girls would not be heard “if the airwaves are filled with discussion about [his] future.” He then acknowledged that “Doing what’s right is hard.”
According to the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, a by-election will be held to replace Philip Allott.