Why Sarah Everard crime panel must meet in public – The Yorkshire Post says

THIS newspaper notes North Yorkshire crime commissioner Philip Allott’s acceptance that so many people were right to view his comments about women’s safety in the aftermath of Sarah Everard’s murder as “repugnant”.

Philip Allott is North Yorkshire's Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.

He is, at least, right on this but it is beyond belief, one week on, that he’s still the £74,000 a year Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, one of the first counties to make misogyny a hate crime.

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North Yorkshire County Council leader Carl Les chairs the county's Police, Fire and Crime Panel.

What people will also find “repugnant” is North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel’s tactless decision to change the status of its meeting next Thursday and hold it in a ‘virtual’ format online, thereby sparing Mr Allott from the ordeal of facing his electors in person.

And, given how the country is now opening up after the Covid pandemic, people will see this decision for what it is – cowardice.

The fallout from the murder of Sarah Everard has prompted much national soul-searching about women's safety and policing.

By his own admission, Mr Allott has “a lot to learn” after suggesting that women need to be more “streetwise” and that Sarah, whose family come from York, should have checked the credentials of the evil police officer who abducted, raped and killed her. How can he if he won’t meet his critics in person? How can he if public contributions are limited to 30 minutes in total? And how can he do so when many people don’t have broadband access?

For the sake of Sarah and her family, this decision needs reversing. A crime commissioner intent on rebuilding trust would be insisting that this meeting is held in public with no time constraints – democratic accountability should always take precedence over any cost concerns.

Equally residents deserve an explanation from the panel’s chair Carl Les who is also leader of North Yorkshire County Council. That he has chosen to sanction these ‘cowardly’ new arrangements suggests that the policing leader is not the county’s only man in a position of power with lessons to learn.

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