Bogus 'police officer' jailed after attempting to arrest lone woman
A man who falsely identified himself as a police officer and attempted to arrest a lone woman in a car park has been jailed for more than five months.
Gary Shepherd, 44, of Abbey Road in Barrow, appeared before Barrow Magistrates’ Court on October 7 where he admitted charges of impersonating a police officer and common assault. He was jailed for a total of 22 weeks.
The court heard how Shepherd approached the victim as she walked to her car in Greengate car park in Barrow, shortly after 6.30pm on Tuesday evening (October 5).
He approached the woman while wearing a blue lanyard around his neck, with ‘POLICE’ written on the material strap. He then attempted to detain the woman, telling her, “I’m arresting you for drug dealing”.
However, the victim was unwilling to accept the man’s claim to be a police officer and so approached a member of the public. Together the pair challenged Shepherd, who then left the scene. Shepherd was arrested later that night.
In his first police interview, Shepherd initially denied being in the area or committing any offences.
However, in his second interview, officers were able to show evidence he was not telling the truth, at which point Shepherd claimed his actions had been a “joke”.
Superintendent Matt Pearman of Cumbria Constabulary said: “Whilst this matter has been dealt with swiftly, it does not change the fact that this is a gravely concerning incident.
“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.”
The case comes as an increasing number of police forces around the country are unveiling verification processes to enable members of the public to confirm that the person they are dealing with is a bona fide police officer.