POLICE Scotland will "immediately" introduce a new procedure to allow members of the public to verify an officer's identity.

The force says the move has been brought in following "understandable public concern surrounding the horrendous murder of Sarah Everard".

Police said on duty officers operating on their own will now proactively offer to carry out a verification check for anyone they come across who appears to be concerned for their safety. A member of the public can also request that a verification check be done.

The simpler process will allow any member of the public to verify whether or not they are being spoken to by a genuine police officer.

Police said that it is "very rare" for officers to operate alone, but it is not unheard of.

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The new process, introduced on Saturday, will also allow for the officer's personal radio to be put on loudspeaker and for a member of staff in a Police Scotland Control Room to confirm that the officer is who they say they are, that they are on duty, and confirm the reason the officer is speaking to the member of the public.

The Control Room will then create an incident number which can be displayed on the officer’s mobile phone or radio to confirm the broadcast message details.

The force said that "in the even rarer situation" where a lone off-duty officer has to become involved in an incident, the officer will call 999 and allow the member of the public to speak to the control room on the phone. Uniformed colleagues will also be dispatched as quickly as possible.

Professor James Chalmers, Regius Professor of Law at the University of Glasgow, commented: "It’s a small step, not a solution, but it’s striking that Police Scotland, unlike the Met, recognise they have an obligation to change what they do rather than tell people to flag down buses."

Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr said: “Our officers work, on a daily basis and across every community in Scotland, with absolute professionalism to protect the vulnerable and keep people safe in line with our core values of integrity, fairness and respect and a commitment to upholding human rights. Public confidence and consent is critical to our legitimacy, and our ability to keep our communities and citizens safe.

“The appalling circumstances of Sarah Everard's murder have deeply affected people and many are now understandably concerned about verifying an officer’s identity. Police Officers will, of course, continue to approach any member of the public who appears distressed or vulnerable, to offer support and assistance. 

“However, although it is rare for a lone police officer to have to speak to a member of the public in Scotland, we absolutely recognise our responsibility to introduce an additional means of verification to provide further reassurance to anyone, in particular women who may feel vulnerable, and who might be concerned if they find themselves in this situation.

“The onus is on us, as a police service, to proactively offer this additional verification process to any member of the public who appears distressed, vulnerable or frightened. Police officers always carry photographic identification and will be happy to provide further reassurance about who they are and their reason for speaking with someone if requested.”