As former Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens is sentenced for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard today, new data highlights the need for a renewed focus on police violence towards women.
Today, as former police officer Wayne Couzens is due to appear in court today facing sentencing for kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard in March 2021, new figures reveal that women have been killed by at least 15 serving or former police officers in the UK since 2009.
33-year-old Everard disappeared as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, on the evening of 3 March.
During the trial, the court heard how Everard was handcuffed by Couzens as he pretended to arrest her for breaching Covid guidelines.
As the BBC reports, Couzens showed his warrant card before restraining Everard, putting her in his hire car and driving to Dover, where he then transferred her to his own car.
Couzens then drove to a remote rural area he knew well, where he raped and strangled Everard.
Couzens worked on Covid patrols in January, the court also heard, and so would have known the appropriate formal terms regarding potential breaches.
However, Couzens, 48, then a serving diplomatic protection officer with the Metropolitan Police, pleaded guilty to kidnap and rape in June, before admitting murder at a hearing the following month. Ahead of his sentencing today, Sky News reports that the judge, Lord Justice Fulford, has discussed the possibility of a whole-life prison term.
Everard’s death sparked outrage and protests at the rates of male violence against women, as well as a renewed focus on attacks on women involving the police.
Vigils held on Clapham Common in south-west London after Everard’s death on 3 March had been disrupted by the police, who controversially arrested women and dispersed mourners.
However, Karen Ingala Smith, a co-founder of the Femicide Census, told the Times that the problem went “way deeper”.
Ingala Smith criticised “disbelieving attitudes that enable rapists, rather than support rape victims”. She said: “This is not the problem of a few ‘bad ’uns’ but systemic and institutional sexism.”
Since Everard’s murder, national outpourings of emotion and anger have been sparked by the subsequent murders of teacher Sabina Nessa and sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman.
Following Henry and Smallman’s deaths, two Metropolitan Police officers were charged with “misconduct” after sharing photographs taken at the scene of the double killing that were allegedly shared on WhatsApp.
The sisters’ mother, Mina Smallman, has previously said she believes their race meant their deaths were not taken seriously, and their murders did not receive the same reaction as the killing of Sarah Everard.
The increase in male violence towards women has been declared by some as a “national emergency,” with an independent watchdog calling for male violence against women and girls to be treated as as much of “an absolute priority” as countering terrorism.
Image: Getty, Smallman/Henry family