Philip Allott came under fire last week over comments he made about murdered Sarah Everard, whom he suggested should have resisted her arrest by killer Wayne Couzens.
Mr Allott has since retracted his remarks, but a group gathered outside his office’s roadshow in Harrogate yesterday to call for him to vacate his elected position.
The PCC himself was not present but staff manning his stall were handed a petition with 165 signatures in support of the resignation.
Solicitor Andrew Gray, whose firm Truth Legal has offices in Leeds and Harrogate, attended with his 11-year-old daughter. Mr Gray moved to Harrogate from his native Manchester after an incident in the city in 2005 in which he was arrested and later assaulted by an off-duty police officer, leading to him developing anxiety.
Mr Gray and several other legal professionals present agreed that had they been in Miss Everard’s position, they would have accepted arrest and would not have known otherwise.
He said: “People came together over social media. I messaged some people I knew and they shared it online. It was organic, calm and spontaneous. People who walked by joined the group and held placards and asked others to sign.
“We met one person who was very much in step with the PCC’s comments but everyone else was supportive of our criticism.
“A group of female ‘campaigners’ delivered the petition to the PCC’s staff at the end. The staff were professional, as you would expect, engaging with people.
“Anecdotally there were lots of lawyers who showed up as well as people who work in criminal justice. Their view was that we all would have accepted arrest and then waited to clear things up later. Knowing what is isn’t an arrestable offence wouldn’t have made any difference. It was a bizarre thing to say.
“As you would expect, the majority of this motley group – most of whom didn’t know each other – were female. Most of the people who signed the petition – of all ages – were women. I was there with my 11-year-old daughter. Like most people, I teach her to respect the police and to do what they say.
“His comments were of course tone-deaf, poorly timed and frankly wrong, from all angles, particularly from a woman’s perspective. But what is most odd is the damage it has done to policing in this area. Now the police will be faced with members of the public questioning their legitimacy. His position is untenable. It came from deep within. It wasn’t a slip of the tongue. It was from another age.
“There is no power of recall, as there is for MPs. This has damaged his relationship with his constituents as well as with the officers and all victims’ groups. It makes his job impossible.”
Meanwhile the Thirsk and Malton Labour group have also demanded that Mr Allott step down.
A statement from them said: “The Thirsk and Malton Labour party call on Philip Allott, the Conservative police, fire and crime commissioner for North Yorkshire, to resign immediately following his disgraceful interview on BBC Radio York.
“The whole country is universally appalled at the revelations that a serving police officer arrested Sarah Everard in a public place with the sole intention to rape and to kill her. Everyone who heard the facts yesterday understood that Sarah Everard was completely unable to avoid her fate once the police officer identified himself as a member of the police force, she had no way to escape.
“Yet, having had 24 hours to digest these facts Philip Allott, the man responsible to the citizens of North Yorkshire for holding the North Yorkshire Police force to account, tells us that Sarah Everard should have resisted arrest and further, that women should take responsibility to know more about police and legal processes. He chose to blame women for men’s violence towards them.
“Thirsk and Malton Labour party hold that he was expressing his own conclusion from the revelations of yesterday and that his subsequent apology is false and simply expresses his regret to the reaction to his comments, a reaction of universal condemnation.
“We call for his immediate resignation and state that he is wholly unsuitable to represent the citizens of North Yorkshire and especially unsuitable to represent women in the county.”