Sarah Everard anniversary: ‘Three years on I feel despair’ says women’s safety campaigner

Three years on from Sarah's Everard's murder, women's safety campaigners say nothing has changed regarding women’s safety and attitudes in the Met Police.
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“I’ve done a tonne of campaigning and press over the last three years but it's not a drop in the ocean compared to the influence Andrew Tate has had,” said Jamie Klingler reflecting on the anniversary of Sarah Everard’s murder.

The Reclaim These Streets co-founder has spent the last three years campaigning for women’s safety and highlighting the failings of the Met Police in protecting women from violence. Despite her efforts and those of other campaign groups and charities she feels nothing has changed.

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Ms Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, was tricked into complying with a false arrest by armed Met officer Wayne Couzens on the evening of March 3, 2021, while walking home to Brixton from Clapham.

Couzens used his handcuffs and warrant card to snatch her from the streets and went on to strangle her with his police belt in the early hours of March 4.

After a desperate search, police discovered her remains in Ashford, Kent, and Couzens was arrested and convicted of her kidnap, rape and murder. He will spend the rest of his life in prison.

A documentary looking at the Met’s investigation into Ms Everard's murder, how the devastating crime unfolded and its impact will air on BBC One and iPlayer on Tuesday March 5 at 9pm.

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Sarah Everard was abducted while walking home on March 3 2021Sarah Everard was abducted while walking home on March 3 2021
Sarah Everard was abducted while walking home on March 3 2021

Angiolini Inquiry report

This week an inquiry concluded that Couzens "should never have been a police officer”.

The inquiry into whether red flags over the cop were missed concluded that police "repeatedly failed" to spot warning signs over his "unsuitability for office".

Lady Elish Angiolini, chair of the inquiry, found that three different police forces "could and should" have stopped Couzens from being employed as an officer. Lady Elish found a catalogue of failings in how Couzens was recruited and vetted, as well as in how allegations against him were investigated.

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The report laid bare evidence of allegations against Couzens, including accusations of sexual abuse and a "very serious sexual assault of a child barely into her teens". The allegations of sexual offending stretched back nearly 20 years before the murder of Ms Everard.

Lady Elish said: “Wayne Couzens should never have been a police officer. And, without a significant overhaul, there is nothing to stop another Couzens operating in plain sight."

She urged all police forces across the country to "take immediate action" and called for an urgent review of indecent exposure charges against serving officers.

Jamie Klingler, co-founder of Reclaim These StreetsJamie Klingler, co-founder of Reclaim These Streets
Jamie Klingler, co-founder of Reclaim These Streets

‘Couzens is not an anomaly’

Ms Klingler warns that Couzens is “not an anomaly” and says the Met Police has “no intention of change”.

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“Everything that the police have done from the get go, from fostering someone who was a serial flasher and who was nicknamed a 'rapist' - and everything we’ve learned in the following three years - has just been antagonistic and despicable,” she told LondonWorld.

“What’s really hard right now, like with learning about Cliff Mitchell being hired as a Met Police officer despite being a child rape suspect, just months after Couzens, when all eyes were on the Met Police. It shows they have no intention of progress, they have no intention of change.

“Three years on, I feel despair. Up until now we were giving the Met Police the benefit of the doubt, we actually believed change was the intention. I no longer believe that reform was the intention.”

Ms Klingler said it is not up to women to tackle misogyny and male violence, and warned of the influence of Andrew Tate.

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“Imagine if men just stopped doing it. I can’t talk to women’s groups about male violence as we can’t stop it,” she said. “I’ve done a tonne of campaigning and press over the last three years but it's not a drop in the ocean compared to the influence Andrew Tate has had, and that’s what we’re up against. We’re up against men who believe in fake rapes.”

Last year former acting Met Commissioner Stephen House was referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) over allegations that he described the “bulk” of rape complaints as “regretful sex”. House denied the claims, saying he finds “abhorrent” the term 'regretful sex'.

Met Police

Commenting on the findings of the Angiolini Inquiry, Met Commissioner Mark Rowley said: “There is nothing we can say to the family of Sarah Everard and all those who loved her that will convey how very sorry we are.

“Wayne Couzens’ crimes were horrific. The fact that he abused his position as a Metropolitan Police officer to carry them out represents the most appalling betrayal of trust.

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“The report is an urgent call to action for all of us in policing. We must go further and faster, to earn back the trust of all those whose confidence in policing has been shaken by events of recent years.”

Mayor of London

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “My thoughts are with Sarah Everard’s parents, her siblings, her loved ones and everyone who knew her. Sarah’s death shocked the nation. Her family, Londoners and the wider public rightly deserve answers and an explanation as to how a serving police officer was able to carry out this heinous crime and why so many warning signals were not acted upon sooner to prevent this tragedy.

“The report by Dame Elish Angiolini shines a light on systemic failings in police investigations, vetting and the handling of misconduct allegations. We all need to closely examine  and consider all the findings of the inquiry.

“I’m determined to ensure lessons are learned and acted upon quickly by the police as part of a process of major reform - not just in London, but across the country - to raise standards, strengthen vetting and, above all else, prevent anything like this from ever happening again."