Fake police officer ordered woman to stop on M1

'Lisa' driving with June Kelly in passenger seat
'Lisa', pictured driving with June Kelly in the passenger seat, reported the man to police [BBC]

A motorist who is traumatised after being ordered to stop on a motorway by a man posing as a police officer, has been told there will be no criminal investigation and police will not speak to the man face-to-face.

The woman says the man waved what looked like a police warrant card, drove close to her at speed in an unmarked car and ordered her to pull over on the M1 in Leicestershire.

She did not stop, fearing a repeat of the Wayne Couzens case.

Two police forces have now apologised.

Couzens used his police warrant card to falsely arrest Sarah Everard in March 2021. He then raped and murdered her.

The woman, who wants to remain anonymous and is using the pseudonym Lisa, has told the BBC that when she came off the motorway, she reported the man and gave his car registration to the police.

It has now emerged he was not an officer, but he had worked for the police. Lisa describes him as "a fake policeman who wanted to do me harm".

She says in March 2023, she was driving on her own, northbound on the M1 in Leicestershire. She admits she was speeding, doing about 80mph.

She says a lone male driver, in an unmarked car, crossed in front of her and went further ahead in the outside lane.

Blue motorway sign showing Leicestershire towns
The incident took place on the M1 northbound in Leicestershire [BBC]

As she came up behind him, also in the outside lane, he started waving a small black wallet out of the driver’s window, with an EIIR Royal-style symbol.

She thought it was a police warrant card: “Immediately, I thought he’s a policeman. I’m speeding, I should pull over.”

But because she felt uneasy, Lisa decided instead to move into the middle lane and stay there.

She says the driver then slowed down in the outside lane so that he was driving parallel with her.

“He leaned over holding the steering wheel with one hand. He was driving alongside me all the time, shouting to pull over. He was really angry. I felt really stressed," she said.

“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.”

When she did not stop, the male driver suddenly slowed down, moved across to the inside lane and turned off the motorway.

Botched investigations

Lisa reported the man as soon as she could when she stopped, but by then she was in the Derbyshire force area.

She was told that he was a Northamptonshire police officer and because it was initially treated as a complaint against a police officer rather than a crime, it was Northamptonshire who first dealt with it.

It began an investigation, and over the following months established that the man was not an officer but had worked in a civilian role with the force, working for a contractor, and had left the role months before Lisa reported him.

Northamptonshire passed the complaint to the Leicestershire force because Lisa was driving in its patch, and it needed to be dealt with as a crime report.

By this stage all CCTV footage from the time had gone, and it took until the end of August for Leicestershire to log it as an alleged crime of impersonating a police officer.

Because of the delays, this was almost at the end of the six-month limit for prosecuting such an offence.

Leicestershire says it then ran out of time and did not speak to the man. It has apologised to Lisa.

In a statement, it told BBC News: “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.”

'Poor service'

The Professional Standards Department of Northamptonshire Police also apologised in a letter to Lisa in February this year.

It says: “Ultimately you have been given a poor service throughout the life of this investigation.

"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.”

In the letter, the force promised to speak to the man. It contacted him a month later and, in a pre-arranged phone call, the man denied the allegations. Officers did not visit his home.

This was now twelve months after Lisa had reported him.

'Panicky and scared'

Northamptonshire Police has also revealed that there was no record of the man returning his ID card when he stopped working for the contractor.

It says that while the card would have had a Northamptonshire Police crest, it would have been stamped with the words “not a warrant card” and would not have been in a small black wallet. It added that practices for returning cards have now been tightened up.

Lisa is incredulous at the police response and a year on still gets upset when she describes what happened: “I feel really let down. I still feel sick, panicky and scared. I would say he was a fake policeman who wanted to do me harm.”

She has shared her story with family and friends: “Many women have said that because he appeared to be a police officer, they would have stopped.”

She dreads to think what could have happened if she had done.