‘She’ll always be remembered’: Tributes from London women to murdered Sarah Everard one year on

On the anniversary of her disappearance, Londoners are remembering Sarah, described by her distraught family as “beautiful, compassionate and kind”.

Women in south London have paid emotional tributes to Sarah Everard who was kidnapped by a serving Metropolitan Police officer one year ago today.

The 33-year-old marketing executive was tricked into complying with a false arrest by armed officer Wayne Couzens in the evening of March 3, 2021, while walking home from a friend’s.

Sarah Everard’s distraught family described her as “beautiful, compassionate and kind”. Photo: Supplied via Met Police

After a desperate search, police tragically discovered her remains in Ashford, Kent, and Couzens was arrested and convicted of her kidnap, rape and murder.

Home secretary Priti Patel has launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death - but critics have called for the Angiolini Inquiry to be given legal powers to demand key evidence and force cops to provide testimony.

Floral tributes and messages in honour of Sarah Everard. Photo: Getty

Passers by at the Clapham Common bandstand told LondonWorld how Ms Everard would “always be remembered” and seemed “just like one of us”.

While the Met Police and Lambeth council say they are working to tackle violence against women “as a priority”; improving safety and lighting in the area, and educating men.

Emily Sullivan

30-year-old Emily lives in Clapham and works as a copywriter

She said: “I can’t remember exactly where I first heard about it but I remember it feeling really relatable.

“A lot of my friends could really put ourselves in Sarah’s shoes. It felt really close to home.”

“She wasn’t on a night out. She was doing everything you’d think of to keep yourself safe.”

Emily Sullivan . Photo: LondonWorld

Emily continued: “The shock when we found out it was a policeman… who can you trust?

She added: “I think she’ll always be remembered.

“I have always felt safe but it’s also a reminder that you do have to be so vigilant.

“It’s just sad and scary.”

Rebecca Williams

Administrator Rebecca, 34, lives in Clapham

She said: “I found out mostly on social media and Instagram.

“Seeing her face, bless her, and then just not knowing where she was, it wasn’t nice to hear.”

Rebecca Williams. Photo: LondonWorld

Rebecca said: “As a woman it makes you quite weary. You don’t like to go out and feel like you must watch over your shoulder, or that you mustn’t go out at a certain time or whatever.

“It just makes you quite panicky and makes everyone really aware… I was so conscious of it.

“It changed my feelings towards being stopped by the police, 100%. It’s just disgusting to think that that is someone that is supposed to be helping you, that is supposed to be safety.

“We’re told to call the police if anything happens! To think he was a police officer is scary.”

She added: “A lot more could have been done by the police in terms of how it was dealt with.

“When you think of Sabina Nessa, her death came after this happened and maybe the uproar was much bigger because of the outcry over Sarah.”

Emilie Dannheisser

Mum-of-two Emilie, aged 38, lives in Balham and works as a HR manager

“I found out when it was on BBC News or news programmes,” she said.

“On the way to take my son to school there were posters all over the street.”

Emile said: “Like a lot of people, I just felt that she looked a lot like us.

“She lived locally - just around the corner. We hoped for the best until we all found out what had really happened.

“The police are supposed to protect you. It feels a lot worse when it’s the police, firemen or doctors, who are meant to look after all of us.”

Emilie Dannheisser with her daughter. Photo: LondonWorld

And she added: “I have a daughter so I do think about when she grows up. It won’t be nice thinking about her when she’s out.

“But it’s not just this - there’s the Me Too movement and how we educate our boys and men.

“Things like catcalling, that men probably think ‘eh it’s nothing’, are not nice when you’re on the receiving end.

“We’re starting to talk to my six-year-old son about consent. We just talk about how you treat everybody in a fair way, and that if someone says no, it means no.

“He has a little sister, so I’m hoping he’ll grow up to be kind to women.”

Saskia Arthur

Aged 24, Saskia lives in Hampstead and works in Clapham as a literary agency assistant

She said: “I found out on social media. I usually check BBC News, Instagram, Twitter - I feel like it was all unfolding there.

“I was horrified. My gut reaction at the time - we didn’t know what had happened - but I felt something very bad had gone on.

“Although femicide and female violence issues are very common, there was something about Sarah.

“My friends were all talking about it a lot more than in other cases of missing women.”

Saskia Arthur. Photo: LondonWorld

Saskia continued: “I don’t like to say ‘she did all the right things’. It doesn’t matter if you were dressed a certain way.

“I wonder if it was a class thing but we didn’t recognise it, as we thought, ‘she’s just like us’.

“She seemed middle-class and in terms of my friends, just like one of us. It made us feel more vulnerable.

“It’s frightening that you can move to an affluent area and you’re still not completely safe.”

And she said she and her friends were “quite shaken”, adding: “It’s actually given me confidence to question authority.

“It surprised me as I didn’t realise you’re allowed to question someone in uniform telling you to do something. If something feels off and I don’t understand, it’s okay to hold your ground.

“Being white you assume subconsciously that you can trust systems. As a woman you have to be even more careful and suspicious.”

Jamie Klingler

43-year-old Jamie is an events manager and Reclaim These Streets activist, living in London

She said: “None of us knew her personally but when the news came out, because we were all in our houses, we had more time to watch the news - we had more time to hope and fear.

“You felt crazed with grief, because you didn’t know this young woman but you’d seen her face for nine days. It was rage… we were in the perfect storm.”

Of the vigil Jamie organised with feminist activist group RTS, which was shut down by the police, she told LondonWorld: “It was a very momentary decision and the craziest four days.

“It was very much the first time in my life that I couldn’t be quiet any more.”

Jamie Klingler. Photo: LondonWorld

Jamie continued: “[The police] were absolutely demeaning, condescending and treated us like we were stupid little girls. They called us ‘naive young women’ - I’m 43.

“For them to shut the vigil down and belittle and take us to court… every step of the way they stomped on us.

“It pulled focus from Sarah and it became about the human right to protest.”

“They said the biggest risk was bad optics for the Met. It had nothing to do with women getting Covid.

“They didn’t want us on TV protesting that a cop had killed her.”

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick makes a statement outside of the Old Bailey Central Criminal Court. Photo: Getty

She added: “Everyone said it was a watershed moment - everyone said everything would change.

“The Met Police treats women’s safety like a PR exercise. They’ve not done one thing to demonstrably make our lives any safer or any better.

“They’ve had a year and they’ve done nothing. We are expendable.”

Posters near Clapham Common during an investigation into the disappearance of Sarah Everard. Photo: Getty

Jamie said she was calling for the Angiolini Inquiry to be given statutory powers and for misogyny to be legally deemed a hate crime.

“People of colour have been saying for years what the Met are capable of and that the Met have underserved them but I really didn’t get it until this year,” she explained.

“Saying that misogyny can’t be a hate crime because it would overload the police. All that’s saying is that women’s crime’s don’t matter.”

What did the police and the council say?

The Met Police have said they will not be carrying out media engagements around the anniversary of Ms Everard’s death, out of respect towards her family.

However, on International Women’s Day, on Tuesday, March 8, the force plans to launch its ‘Walk and Talk’ scheme across the capital, which will see female officers walk the city with women and discuss their concerns - enabling vital conversations about night time safety.

Commander Rachel Williams, said: “All women and girls have the right to feel safe, at any time, day or night, in public or at home. We are doing everything we can to improve safety.

“We want all women and girls to know that we are listening to your concerns and worries and we are 100% committed to making you feel safe – as you should – in London.”

Commander Alison Heydari, said: “We know the murder of Sarah Everard, along with other awful cases where officers have behaved appallingly towards women, have deeply impacted trust.

“We are determined to do everything we can to rebuild the faith we need the public to have in us.”

Tributes to Sarah Everard. Photo: Getty

While Jacqui Dyer, Lambeth council deputy leader, said: “Tackling violence against women and girls is a priority for us. We aim to make Lambeth a borough where everyone is safe.”

The council has been awarded more than £500,000 from the Safer Streets Fund, which it is using for improving street safety and lighting, installing extra CCTV and changing park and street layouts to make it harder for criminals to hide.

The cash will see 35 new street lamps at Clapham Common and extra CCTV installed by april - to add to the existing 200 lights on the common, as well as other safety projects.

And London mayor Sadiq Khan, has this week announced additional funding to help make venues and public spaces in the capital safer for women at night, with a further £108,000 for specialist training, online resources, an interactive toolkit and best practice guidance.

Labour’s Mr Khan said: “I am determined to make London a place where women feel confident and welcome at night, whatever they’re doing.”

He added: “We have to be honest – these problems are caused by the unacceptable attitudes and behaviours of men. It’s not about women changing their behaviour in order to feel and be safe.

Sadiq Khan has warned Londoners of ‘more frequent and intense’ flooding. Credit: Hollie Adams/Getty Images

“We've all got to play our part and we must all face up to the issue of violence against women and girls.”

Women’s organisation Walk Her Home Lambeth are marching between Clapham and Brixton on Friday, March 4 in memory of Sarah and other women killed at the hands of men.

LondonWorld has not included any images of Couzens in this piece due to Ms Everard’s family’s “longstanding request not to put images of Couzens next to those of Sarah”.

If you have been affected by any issues raised in this piece, you can contact charities and organisations, including Solace, Women’s Aid, Refuge or the NHS. Contact the police on 111 to report a crime or 999 in an emergency.