Gary Shepherd, who was wearing a police lanyard, approached a woman in the Greengate Street car park in Barrow. When he spoke to her at a car park in Barrow on Tuesday evening, he was wearing a lanyard with the word ‘police’ emblazoned on it. However, the recent Sarah Everard case has brought in more awareness for the people, and as such the women did not immediately believe the man.
On being told by the fake police officer that she is accused of drug dealing, the woman defied him and with the help of a passer-by, she was able to know his truth. On realizing he has been busted, Shepherd fled from the scene but was later caught and arrested on Tuesday.
As frightening as it gets
According to Cumbria Police, he approached the woman at Greengate car park at about 18:30 BST. However, she did not believe he was a genuine police officer. This prompted Supt Matt Pearman to comment that the entire case was an extremely frightening and grave concern. This comes in light of the recent Sarah Everard case, who was murdered by a police officer after being detained under false pretences.
Realizing the gravity of the situation, Supt 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.
Fortunately, 44-year-old Shepherd eventually confessed to impersonating a police officer and was sentenced to 22 weeks in prison at Barrow Magistrates' Court.
Man claims it was a 'joke'
Shepherd, who initially denied the incident, later went on to say it was only meant as a ‘joke.’ Not only is that a disgrace to the police department, but also to humanity in general. Shepherd had previously received a 4-week suspended sentence for another offence, which was immediately invoked by the magistrates. He received an additional 18-week term for impersonating a police officer and common assault, both of which he accepted.
Further, his act has scrutinized the Police process more. Cumbria Police has announced a new process for members of the public to validate the identities of lone officers. Officers will give their collar number to anyone who asks, and they will use their police radio to call the control centre to confirm their identification, location, duty status, and the reason they are interacting with someone.