Sarah Everard: One Year On

One year since the anniversary of Sarah Everard's death at the hands of a police officer, the lack of faith we have in the police is discussed.

Leah Graham
22nd March 2022
Reclaim These Streets Vigil in honour of Sarah Everard in Sheffield (Image Credit: Flickr)
A few months ago, I wrote an article in which I discussed the inadequacy of the Metropolitan Police in supporting women’s safety and the growing distrust against the force that is meant to protect us. One year on, have we seen any change?

My article was penned as a response to Dame Cressida Dick’s refusal to step down as Police Commissioner over the force’s handling of Sarah Everard’s murder. Only on the 10th of February did she announce her intent to depart from the role after losing the support of London’s mayor Sadiq Khan. Too little too late?

A year after Sarah Everard’s death, women still can’t walk alone at night.

On the 3rd of March 2021, Sarah Everard was kidnapped and murdered by a police officer who claimed he was arresting her for breaching Covid-19 regulations. A few months prior, sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman were murdered and non-official and inappropriate pictures of their bodies were distributed by police officers via WhatsApp to friends. On the 17th of September 2021, Sabina Nessa was murdered minutes after leaving her home. Around the same time, Angel Lynn was kidnapped by her boyfriend and thrown from a van travelling 60mph leaving her paralysed and unable to communicate. One of her kidnappers, Rocco Sansome, will serve less than two years in prison for his crime.

These women received so-called ‘justice’ and have the luxury of having their attackers be sentenced to prison. But no prison sentence will bring them back.

Less than a year after Ms Everard’s death, her murderer was sentenced to life imprisonment. If that last statement gives you reassurance, know that in the same week as the year anniversary of her murder, Wayne Couzens was rewarded in prison for good behaviour. At the same time, a Cheshire man made threats to slit a woman and child’s throat and shouted that Wayne Couzens was coming to ‘get’ them at female swimmers.

This man was given a restraining order and a fine; it is through inconsequential punishments such as this that misogynistic and dangerous men continually get away with their actions and, facing no punishment, do it again. It is a vicious circle wherein there is a reoccurring victim.

In the same week as the year anniversary of her murder, Wayne Couzens was rewarded in prison for good behaviour

Sarah Everard’s death highlighted the failure of police in protecting women. In my previous article, I wrote that the Met needs to acknowledge its "misogynistic culture, take assault allegations seriously against its officers, and provide us with proof that they are working to change themselves- and do a lot more to combat male violence".

Since the time of writing that article, at least six allegations against Mr Couzens have been made public citing assault or misconduct. More officers have been suspended or placed under investigation for sharing inappropriate graphics during the search for Ms Everard, or for failing to act appropriately when investigating Mr Couzens in the past.

When Cressida Dick announced a review into standards and internal culture of the Met I was hopeful that the force was making strides in the right direction, but with the Police Commissioner departing the job, it seems nothing had changed. Perhaps the Met is hoping we will forget that the system that is meant to protect us is failing so badly.

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