Sarah Everard: Met pledges 650 new officers to protect women as killer cop jailed

1 October 2021, 07:38

Sarah Everard was raped and murdered by police officer Wayne Couzens.
Sarah Everard was raped and murdered by police officer Wayne Couzens. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

The Met Police has pledged to deploy hundreds of new officers on the streets of London in the wake of Sarah Everard's "sickening" murder, admitting it needs to do more to protect women and girls.

Wayne Couzens - nicknamed 'The Rapist' by colleagues - was sentenced to life behind bars on Thursday for the brutal murder of Ms Everard, as further calls were made for Met Police chief Dame Cressida Dick to resign.

The force is being investigated over the marketing executive's murder after it emerged the former Met Police cop - who was a serving officer at the time - was reported for indecent exposure in the days leading up to her death.

In March last year Ms Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by the 48-year-old - who has been branded as bringing "shame" to the police uniform for his "sickening" crime.

Following the judge's decision, the Met Police has announced it will no longer deploy plain clothes officers on their own after the sentencing hearing was told Couzens had used lockdown rules to falsely arrest Ms Everard during the abduction.

The force has also promised to publish a new strategy for tackling violence against women and girls, outlining how it will prioritise action against sexual and violent predatory offenders.

Read more: Killer cop to die behind bars: Sarah Everard's parents say the world is a 'safer place'

Read more: Starmer tells LBC Met Police must answer how Everard's killer 'slipped through the net'

This will include the deployment of a further 650 police officers on the streets of busy parts of London.

Plain clothes officers will also not be sent out on their own and will be "in pairs", Met Deputy Commissioner Sir Stephen House said on Thursday.

Sir Stephen warned there will be occasions where that is not possible given that off-duty officers not in uniform "put themselves on duty" when they come across an incident.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, told LBC that he hopes this will help instil public trust in the police.

"Londoners will see increased visible uniformed presence in those parts of London where we know women and girls suffer more incidents than other parts," said Mr Khan.

"They're also going to see now plain clothes officers in at least pairs, so if anyone is approached by a plain clothes officer by himself and they're not confident they should ring the police to get the reassurance, and make a noise."

Read more: Met chief faces calls to quit over how cop nicknamed 'The Rapist' slipped through the net

Read more: Police probe into whether Wayne Couzens was behind more crimes as killer is jailed

He added that officers were aware they had a "job to reassure Londoners".

Following the sentencing of Couzens, there have been increasing calls for Dame Cressida to resign from her role as Met Police chief.

The Mother of the House of Commons, Labour MP Harriet Harman, has led the calls.

She should "recognise it's best for her to go," Ms Harman told LBC's Shelagh Fogarty. "It was on her watch that the warning signs on Sarah Everard's killer were missed."

Read more: Plain clothes officers will now work in pairs, Sadiq Khan tells LBC

"As soon as an allegation is made we need an immediate investigation and a prompt suspension. I didn't want to see Cressida Dick fail but it's because I want to see the changes, I want to see them taken through with energy and determination. I know she cannot do that."

However, Lord Stevens, former commissioner of the Met Police, said Dame Cressida should stay in her post.

"I think she should stay, and carry on," he told Nick Ferrari on LBC.

"I think the phrase 'I'm staying, we are changing' is the way forward."