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Man who claimed to be police officer and ‘arrest’ woman in car park is jailed

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A man who claimed to be a police officer and tried to “arrest” a woman in a car park has been jailed.

Gary Shepherd approached the woman in Barrow, Cumbria, on Tuesday night at around 6.30pm, while wearing a blue lanyard with “police” written on the material.

The 44-year-old told the woman he was arresting her for drug dealing, but she approached a passer-by.

When they both challenged Shepherd, he left the scene, a Cumbria Police spokesman said.

He appeared at Barrow Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, where he pleaded guilty to impersonating a police officer and common assault.

Shepherd initially denied being in the area of Greengate car park, but in his second police interview, he claimed his actions had been a “joke”, the force said.

He has been jailed for 22 weeks, fined £85 and ordered to pay costs of £128.

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Last week, police officer, Wayne Couzens, who killed Sarah Everard after kidnapping her under the guise of a fake arrest was given a whole-life order.

Superintendent for South Cumbria, Matt Pearman, said: “To be approached in this way by someone falsely claiming to be a police officer must have been extremely frightening for the victim, particularly coming so soon after the sentencing of Wayne Couzens last week.

“Our officers recognised the seriousness of this incident swiftly and were able to quickly arrest Shepherd, who, less than 48 hours after the initial incident, is now starting a significant prison sentence.”

Shepherd’s sentencing came as Cumbria Police announced a new process for members of the public to confirm the identities of lone officers.

Officers will provide their collar number to anyone who asks and will contact the control room on the police radio to confirm their identity, location, that they are on duty and the reason they are speaking to someone, the force announced on Thursday.

Chief Constable Michelle Skeer said: “The facts of how Sarah Everard died have shocked and appalled us all. It is truly horrifying that a police officer could abuse their position and their powers to carry out such abhorrent crimes.

“We fully understand that this has impacted confidence in policing and may also cause concerns for others when they encounter a lone police officer.

“All of our police officers carry a Cumbria Constabulary identification card.

“However, we absolutely recognise our responsibility to introduce an additional means of verification to provide further reassurance to anyone, including women who may feel vulnerable.”