‘Incredibly concerning' police tactic after Sarah Everard death

Olivia Lambert
·News Editor
·4-min read

The UK government is being criticised over an "incredibly concerning" tactic to help keep women safe after Sarah Everard was murdered while walking home from a friend's house.

The 33-year-old went missing on March 3 during her 50-minute walk home in south London.

Her remains were found in a builder's bag in the woods about 80 kilometres away a week later, and Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens was charged with kidnap and murder.

In the wake of her murder, the government has announced Project Vigilant, a new plan to deploy plain-clothed police officers in bars and nightclubs to further help protect women.

However, experts have described the plan as "laughable" and say it does not address the issue of gendered violence.

Undated family handout of missing woman Sarah Everard.
Sarah Everard's death has sparked outrage. Source: AAP

"Undercover officers in bars is laughable," Susannah Fish, former chief constable of Nottinghamshire Police, said.

She added the move by police was "eye catching PR of no substance".

"Sarah Everard had not been in a bar and was simply walking home – as were thousands of women who have suffered harassment, sexual assault, verbal abuse whilst in public spaces, and will be in the future," she said.

Nikki, a member of Sisters Uncut, the feminist direct action group who clashed with police officers at a vigil for Ms Everard this week, said women would not trust the extra patrols.

"It is incredibly concerning that anyone would be putting any extra powers into the police's hands at the moment because it is very evident they cannot be tasked with keeping women safe and they cannot be trusted," she said.

Instead, women's rights campaigners and experts are calling for more action to including mandatory school education on sexual consent, campaigns to target rape myths and for misogyny to be made a hate crime.

'We must do everything we can'

A government spokeswoman acknowledged the need to address the root of the issue but said the extra officers around venues would help deter offending inside.

"We recognise that there is more we need to do to tackle the root causes of gendered violence and to support women," she added in a statement.

A press release from Downing Street says it will also double the size of its Safer Streets fund, which provides safety measures such as lighting and CCTV.

Metropolitan police officers stand in a street in the UK.
Downing Street will deploy more police officers at nightclubs and bars. Source: Getty

It said potential areas of concern for women and girls, including parks, alleyways and routes from bars, restaurants and nightclubs will also be a focus of police.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the steps were to provide greater reassurance for women.

"The horrific case of Sarah Everard has unleashed a wave of feeling about women not feeling safe at night," he said.

"We must do everything we can to ensure our streets are safe, and we are bringing in landmark legislation to toughen sentences and put more police on the streets."

Sarah Everard's murder provokes outrage

The murder of Ms Everard has provoked outpourings of anger from women who have recounted their own experiences and fears of walking the streets on their own at night.

The hashtag #textmewhenyougethome is trending on social media as a poignant reminder every woman has a story.

"That time I was on a packed tube, and I suddenly felt a hand go up my skirt and grope me," one woman wrote on Twitter.

"I had always thought that if, if something like that ever happened to me, I would scream. But in that moment he was making direct eye contact with me and I felt so helpless and small I literally couldn't move or let out a sound."

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In a haunting post online, Instagram influencer Lucy Mountain also detailed the reality for women walking at night.

She said women had all shared live locations, changed their shoes, held keys between their fingers, made either real or fake phone calls, tucked their hair into their coats, ran down dark roads and theorised escape routes while trying to get home.

with Reuters

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