Fake police officer waving 'lookalike warrant card' tried to pull woman over on M1

The ‘frightened’ lone woman thought of Sarah Everard’s murder by Wayne Couzens and refused to pull over
Traffic on the M1, where the terrified incident happened
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A woman has spoken of her fear after a man pretending to be a police officer tried to pull her over as she drove alone on the M1 motorway.

The man appeared to be showing a warrant card, but she refused to pull over in light of Sarah Everard’s murder by police officer Wayne Couzens.

It has since emerged the man was not a police officer, but a civilian who had previously been contracted to work for the police.

He has not been prosecuted.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, was driving northbound along the M1 in Leicestershire when the incident happened in March 2023.

She told the BBC how a lone man, driving an unmarked car, crossed in front of the path of her car and moved into the outside lane.

As she approached him in the outside lane, he reportedly began waving a black wallet that resembled a warrant card, with a symbol that looked like the royal cypher, out of his window.

“Immediately, I thought he’s a policeman. I’m speeding, I should pull over,” the woman told the BBC.

But feeling uneasy about the situation, she instead moved into the middle lane. The male driver slowed down so he was driving beside her, and began to shout.

“He leaned over holding the steering wheel with one hand,” she told the BBC.

“He was driving alongside me all the time, shouting to pull over. He was really angry. I felt really stressed.

“He’s looking at me, not the road ahead and the window wasn’t open on my side, but it was on his passenger side and he’s waving the badge that I can clearly see is a black wallet with a police crest badge stuck on the outside.

"I immediately thought of Wayne Couzens and David Carrick. I was genuinely frightened. I was shaking. I was gripping the steering wheel.”

The woman said the driver then slowed down, moved to the inside lane, and left the M1. She rang the police as soon as she stopped.

She was reportedly told the man was a Northamptonshire police officer, meaning the incident was initially dealt with by Northamptonshire Police as a complaint against an officer.

Met police officer Wayne Couzens used his warrant card to ‘arrest’ Sarah Everard before raping and murdering her
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But over a period of months, it was established the man was not a police officer.

He had reportedly worked with the force in a civilian role, for a contracted firm, and had not worked for the force for months by the time the incident happened.

Northamptonshire Police later said there was no record the man had handed back his ID card when he stopped working with the force.

The ID card would have featured the words “not a warrant card”, but would have borne the force’s crest, and would have been in a small black wallet.

It reportedly told the BBC it has now tightened practices for handing back ID cards.

After it emerged the man was not an officer, Northamptonshire Police passed the incident to Leicestershire Police, to deal with as a crime.

But by then, CCTV footage was no longer available, and the six-month time limit for prosecuting the offence had nearly ran out.

Leicestershire Police reportedly said it ran out of time and did not speak to the man.

The force apologised to the woman, and told the BBC: “Leicestershire police takes any report of impersonation of a police officer extremely seriously. However, on this occasion our response did fall below the expected standard.”

Northamptonshire Police’s Professional Standards Department said in a letter in February this year: “Ultimately you have been given a poor service throughout the life of this investigation.

Sarah Everard was abducted and killed by police officer Wayne Couzens in 2021
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"You were left feeling distressed following a male’s actions and this should have been investigated as a crime from the outset.

"Unfortunately, early misinformation that this male was a police officer with Northamptonshire Police led to this becoming a complaint investigation as opposed to a criminal investigation.”

The force reportedly promised it would speak to the man. The BBC reports police carried out a pre-arranged phone call a month later - 12 months after he had been reported - when he denied the allegations. Police did not visit him, says the BBC.

The woman has been left deeply concerned by the incident and what might have happened had she stopped, and disappointed by the police response.

“I feel really let down,” she told the BBC. “I still feel sick, panicky and scared. I would say he was a fake policeman who wanted to do me harm.

“Many women have said that because he appeared to be a police officer, they would have stopped.”

Former Met police officer Couzens used his Met police badge to snatch Ms Everard, 33, from the streets of Clapham under the guise of an arrest in March 2021 before raping her, killing her, and burning her body.

Rapist police officer Carrick - who was last year jailed for life for an “evil” catalogue of abuse of 12 women across nearly two decades - also used his status as a Met police officer to pressure and bully his victims into silence.