Anger over safety fears as police officer suspected of Sarah Everard murder

PA Reporters
·4-min read

The suspected kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard has sparked anger over the safety of women on the UK’s streets.

A serving Metropolitan Police officer, aged in his 40s, is in custody as human remains were found in the search for the 33-year-old marketing executive who vanished last week.

On the day of Ms Everard’s disappearance, he was reportedly working a 2pm to 8pm relief shift at the US Embassy in Nine Elms, south-west London, around three miles from where she was last seen.

According to unconfirmed reports, detectives are investigating whether he might have used his warrant card to entice Ms Everard towards his car before snatching her.

The officer, who is in the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, was held on Tuesday night on suspicion of kidnap before being further arrested the following day on suspicion of murder and a separate allegation of indecent exposure.

A woman in her 30s has been arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Police have removed vehicles from outside a house being searched in Deal, Kent, where the officer is believed to have lived with his wife and two children.

Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said on Wednesday night that human remains – which have not yet been identified – had been found in an area of woodland in Ashford, Kent, by detectives investigating Ms Everard’s disappearance.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “shocked and deeply saddened”, adding: “We must work fast to find all the answers to this horrifying crime.”

The events have prompted an outpouring of shock and anger as women across the country shared their own experiences of feeling unsafe.

A vigil called “Reclaim these streets” is due to take place at Clapham Common bandstand in south London on Saturday.

One of the organisers, Caitlin Prowle, 23, said she is “tired of being afraid” to walk around the streets where she lives.

“It’s been a really difficult, heavy week,” she said.

“Violence against women is an epidemic, but sometimes it does take something like this, that hits a bit closer to home, to really bring it to the fore and certainly in people’s minds and people’s consciousness.

“There is a real sense of ‘enough is enough’. We can’t carry on like this.”

Meanwhile, MPs listened in silence as Labour’s Jess Phillips read out the names of women killed in the UK where a man has been convicted or charged as the primary perpetrator.

The MP for Birmingham Yardley spent more than four minutes listing the names of almost 120 victims from the last 12 months.

Afterwards, Ms Phillips said people had “prayed that the name of Sarah Everard would never be on any list”, and she urged everyone to work to ensure “nobody’s name ends up on this list again”.

Floral tributes
Flowers have been left by members of the public near where human remains were found in Ashford, Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Home Secretary Priti Patel said “every woman should feel safe to walk our streets without fear of harassment or violence”, after Dame Cressida sought to reassure the public.

The Met chief said: “It is thankfully incredibly rare for a woman to be abducted from our streets.

“But I completely understand that despite this, women in London and the wider public – particularly those in the area where Sarah went missing – will be worried and may well be feeling scared.”

Ms Everard vanished while walking home from a friend’s flat in south London on Wednesday March 3.

She is thought to have walked through Clapham Common towards her house in Brixton -– a journey which should have taken around 50 minutes.

Ms Everard was last captured on a doorbell camera walking along the A205 Poynders Road towards Tulse Hill at around 9.30pm.

Sarah Everard missing
Police outside a house in Deal, Kent, being searched as part of the investigation (Steve Parsons/PA)

According to the Met, the suspect’s main job was uniformed patrol of diplomatic premises and he was not on duty at the time of Ms Everard’s disappearance.

The diplomatic protection squad is responsible for guarding the Parliamentary estate, including Downing Street and the Palace of Westminster, as well as embassies in London.

Dame Cressida said his arrest “has sent waves of shock and anger through the public and through the whole of the Met”.

She said: “I speak on behalf of all my colleagues in the Met when I say we are utterly appalled at this dreadful news. Our job is to patrol the streets and to protect people.”

The commissioner said people living around the Clapham and Tulse Hill areas of south London can expect to see increased patrols in the area.