The policing minister has said it would be “perfectly reasonable” for anyone being approached by a lone police officer to call 999 and seek reassurance in the wake of the rape and murder of Sarah Everard.

Speaking to Sky News’ Kay Burley, Kit Malthouse gave advice on what people should do if they are approached by a lone police officer, although he said most do not patrol on their own.

Yesterday, Wayne Couzens, a serving officer at the time, was given a whole life sentence for the kidnap, rape and murder of Ms Everard last year.

Mr Malthouse said: “If anybody has any doubts about that police officer, they should question the officer on what they’re doing and if there are any doubts they should ask to speak to the control room on that officer’s radio or call 999… that is the devastating consequence of this awful man’s actions.”

He added: “I think it would be perfectly reasonable in similar circumstances for somebody to question the officer, seek reassurance, if that means asking them to identify themselves by speaking to the control room or calling in 999 if they feel in danger, then I’m afraid that’s where we’ve got to.”

The policing minister said the murder of Sarah Everard by Wayne Couzens was a “devastating blow” to the police but defended Met Commissioner Cressida Dick after calls for her resignation.

He said that Ms Everard’s kidnap, rape and murder had “struck a devastating blow to confidence in the police, and in the Met Police in particular”.

Couzens was sentenced yesterday after he falsely arrested Ms Everard in south London, in March earlier this year, then drove her to Kent where he killed her and set her body on fire in a fridge.

Senior Labour MP Harriet Harman called for Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick to resign over the incident but Mr Malthouse said he wants a police leader who is transparent and can learn lessons.

“I think that’s Cressida Dick,” he said.

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