Sarah Everard: How can we change the law for the better?

·3-min read
Sarah Everard  (METROPOLITAN POLICE/AFP via Gett)
Sarah Everard (METROPOLITAN POLICE/AFP via Gett)

There have been rallying calls for change in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder at the hands of serving police officer Wayne Couzens.

The police are now facing a huge crisis in public trust after Couzens posed as an undercover officer in order to kidnap and rape Ms Everard.

Worryingly, there seems to have been missed opportunities to stop the firearms officer after three reports of flashing were not properly investigated.

Many politicians have called for urgent reform to the law to better protect women and girls from violence.

Here we take a look at what they are proposing:

Keir Starmer

The Labour leader has called for a victims’ law and better provision in relation to violence against women and girls.

He has also said a review is needed to assess how Couzens was able to slip through the net.

He told LBC radio: “That is the key issue – how did he slip through the net? There were obviously warning signs, so how did he get through?

“I know that thousands upon thousands of police officers doing a fantastic job are absolutely sickened by this.

“How on earth did he get through the net is the critical question that has got to be answered.”

Harriet Harman

Senior Labour MP Harriet Harman has called on Met Commissioner Cressida Dick to resign in the wake of the Sarah Everard case.

She has also written to Priti Patel setting out a number of proposed changes to introduce better safeguarding in the police.

Writing in The Times, she says new police recruits should be subjected better vetting procedures.

It comes after the Met admitted that Couzens wasn’t properly vetted when he joined in 2018.

Ms Harman also says that police should undergo a training programme “which makes them look at their own attitudes and spot warning signs amongst their colleagues”.

“An allegation of violence against a woman by an officer should mean immediate suspension followed by an investigation, not by their own colleagues but by a different force.

“Covering up for a colleague should warrant immediate dismissal. There needs to be checks when an officer moves from one force to another.”

Dominic Raab

The Justice Secretary has said that “protecting women and girls is his number one priority”.

He has vowed to speed up the court process to allow victims “the swift justice they deserve”.

This will be achieved through the introduction of super courtrooms and the extension of the Nightingale Courts into 2022, which were brought into tackle the backlog during the pandemic.

There is also a suggestion that a new law protecting victims of crime will be introduced.

Government sources told the Daily Mail that the new bill will enshrine in law the rights of victims to give impact statements and increase support for those who have suffered abuse.

Priti Patel

The Home Secretary has confirmed that the police will have to make changes following Couzens’ sentencing.

Speaking exclusively to the Standard she said: “This was a monster that absolutely abused power and authority and that’s an absolute scandal and that’s where the police will have to make some changes through the reforms, through being held to account and through difficult conversations.

“But actually, it is wider, in terms of attitudes, behaviours, perpetrators, the whole of society. There’s a role for education here, for health, different aspects of the state, institutions of the state and society coming together, saying yes this is unacceptable.”

Yvette Cooper

Former minister and Labour MP Yvette Cooper has called for an urgent investigation into violence against women and girls in the police service looking at “allegations and cases of domestic abuse, harassment, and sexual offences”.

She said: “This terrible case comes against a backdrop of failure across the criminal justice system to tackle the epidemic of violence against women and girls or to keep women safe.

“Many women across the country have spoken about their deep lack of confidence in the police and criminal justice system.”

Read More

Sarah Everard: Met detective reveals how they snared Wayne Couzens

What the papers say – October 2

Police boss urged to resign over ‘insensitive’ remarks after Sarah Everard case

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting