A man who impersonated a police officer before attempting to falsely arrest a woman in a car park has been jailed.
Gary Shepherd, from Barrow, approached the victim as she walked to her car in Greengate shortly after 6:30pm on Tuesday 5 October 2021.
Wearing a blue lanyard around his neck with ‘POLICE’ written on, the 44-year-old attempted to detain the woman, telling her, “I’m arresting you for drug dealing”.
However, the victim did not believe Shephard and asked for help from a member of the public.
Shepherd was arrested the following night. He initially denied being in the area or committing any offences but, during a second police interview, he claimed his actions had been a “joke”.
The incident comes just days after Sarah Everard's killer, former Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens, was jailed for life.
The firearms officer accused Ms Everard of breaching lockdown rules before he falsely arrested, kidnapped and murdered her.
It also comes as the force introduce a new system designed to help anyone who would like to confirm the identity of a an officer working alone.
The force explained that all officers will provide their collar number to anyone who asks and will call the control room to confirm their identity, location, if they are on duty and the reason why the officer is speaking with them.
Appearing in court, the magistrates invoked immediate activation of Shepherd’s four-week suspended sentence.
He was sentenced to 18 weeks’ custodial, to run consecutively from the four weeks activation, for the common assault charge.
For the impersonating a police officer, he was sentenced to 18 weeks custodial, to run concurrently with the assault charge, fined £85 and ordered to pay costs of £128.
Superintendent for South Cumbria, Matt Pearman, 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.
“As well as thanking the victim and the eye-witness, we would like to thank the Crown Prosecution Service and the court for the swift manner in which the matter has been dealt with.”