NEWS
30/09/2021 14:55 BST

'We Are Still Not Safe' – Women React To Sentencing Of Sarah Everard's Killer

Wayne Couzens was sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday for kidnap, rape and murder.

Sarah Everard’s murderer Wayne Couzens was sentenced to a life behind bars for his crimes, but women are still expressing fear for their own safety.

Couzens was a serving police officer on March 3, the date he put Everard under false arrest using his knowledge of Covid regulations. He then kidnapped her before raping and murdering the 33-year-old with his police belt.

His two-day sentencing at the Old Bailey concluded when the judge gave him an exceptional sentencing whereby Couzens will remain in prison for life.

TOLGA AKMEN via Getty Images
Demonstrators hold banners as they await the sentencing of British police officer Wayne Couzens for the murder of Sarah Everard

The details of how Couzens abused his position of power which emerged throughout the trial have stunned the online community, and many believe significant action must be taken before women will feel safe in the streets.

Here’s a summary of how people have reacted.

‘It’s OK to cry today’

Twitter’s breaking news specialist Nic Keaney tweeted: “It’s OK to cry today. Whether from sadness or anger. The collective trauma of listening through all of that, whether you’ve been assaulted yourself or not, is a lot.

“He will go to prison for the rest of his life but we are still not safe. Look after each other.”

Calls for Dame Cressida Dick to resign

Senior Labour MP and former justice minister Harriet Harman has written to home secretary Priti Patel, calling for Met Chief Dame Cressida Dick’s resignation.

She said: “Women’s confidence in police will have been shattered.

“Urgent action needed. Met Commissioner must resign.”

Dame Cressida Dick’s contract was just extended by Patel earlier this month, meaning she is expected to serve until April 2024.

Reforms within the police

People have called for the police to rebuild the institution’s “trust” with the public.

Former chief prosecutor Nazi Afzal tweeted: “Let us hope that #SarahEverard leads to better policing. First though, the police need to accept that there is a problem of trust. I have yet to see evidence of that.”

Others are keen for the police to acknowledge their part in Couzens’ crimes, especially after former DCI Simon Harding told Sky News: “Police officers do not view Wayne Couzens as a police officer.

“They view him as a murderer who happened to be a police officer.”

Feminist campaigner Caroline Criado Perez tweeted: “Until they [the police] acknowledge that Couzens was not a random bad apple, but enabled by a system that protects their own, women will never trust them.”

Calls to ditch the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Feminist group Sisters Uncut has called to push back against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which will hand greater powers to the police if it passes into law.

The group explained: “While the Metropolitan Police want us to believe that Couzens is an individual case, he is not just a bad apple - the police are an institution rotten to its core.

“We will resist every attempt made by the government and the police to brush their culpability under the carpet as well as every callous attempt they make to use gendered violence to give the police more power to abuse us.

“Couzens’ arresting Everard using Covid legislation shows us that more police powers = more violence.”

Reinstating public transport at night

Several accounts called for more public transport to be brought back, so that women can get home more safely. At the moment, the night tube is not expected to return until 2022, due to ongoing pandemic concerns.

Help and support:

  • Rape Crisis services for women and girls who have been raped or have experienced sexual violence - 0808 802 9999
  • Survivors UK offers support for men and boys - 0203 598 3898