Lincolnshire Police “shocked to the core” about Sarah Everard’s murder by Met Police officer

Lincolnshire Police say they have been “shocked to the core” by the details of Sarah Everard’s murder trial as they move to reassure everyone that Lincolnshire remains a safe place to live, work and visit.

Sarah Everard

Ms Everard, 33, was kidnapped, raped and murdered by Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens who detained her using a false arrest as she walked home.

He was handed a whole life sentence on Thursday for the kidnap, rape and murder of the 33-year-old marketing executive.

Policing minister Kit Malthouse said the case had struck a “devastating blow to the confidence that people have in police officers”, and he warned thousands of officers will need to do more so trust can be rebuilt.

Lincolnshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Chris Davison said: “The murder of Sarah Everard has shocked us to the core, it was a sickening act and one that has generated both anger and sadness. It’s difficult to know what to say and I am mindful that no words can ever fill the void Sarah’s loved ones have been left with.

“Her killer was a serving member of the police service who abused a position of power. He stripped away the morals and values an officer should hold. I take huge pride in wearing this uniform, and it is deeply distressing to see there has been a significant impact from his crime. Mistrust and fear of police is something we are pained by, but an issue we are determined to reverse.”

He went on: “I’m pleased to see that the work we do to protect those in need is being examined by policing nationally. We want you to know that we understand how deeply disturbing this case has been, and we will work tirelessly to serve our communities. Locally, well-established partnerships are planning to ensure that Lincolnshire remains a safe place to live, work and visit, and will be even safer in the future.”

Offering advice to women and individuals who may feel unsafe when stopped by an officer, he added: “Our police officers always carry identification and can always be asked for verification. They are used to providing that reassurance. In light of the actions of Sarah Everard’s murderer it is right that police officers expect and are tolerant of those who wish to be further reassured. They will want to explain and reassure who they are, what they are doing and why.”

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Davison. ENGANL00120110812154200

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones says he sobbed when he read the words of Susan Everard, Sarah’s mother, in her victim impact statement provided to the court

He commented: “I read these incredibly pain laden words by Susan Everard on the loss of Sarah and cried. I sobbed.”

Mrs Everard said in her statement: “She (Sarah) spent her last hours on this earth with the very worst of humanity. She lost her life because Wayne Couzens wanted to satisfy his perverted desires. It is a ridiculous reason, it is nonsenical; how could he value a human life so cheaply?

“I cannot comprehend it. I am incandescent with rage at the thought of it. He treated my daughter as if she was nothing and disposed of her as if she was rubbish.”

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones.

Couzens burned her daughter’s body in a refrigerator in an area of woodland he owned near Ashford, Kent, before dumping the remains in a nearby pond.

Mr Jones added: “As Police and Crime Commissioner I have always placed a high priority on issues relating to the safety of women and girls and the importance of this issue is only heightened in the wake of the tragic murder of Sarah Everard.

“As a parent of a daughter I want to protect, as a man in a world where male violence to women is too common, as a PCC who wants to keep our streets safe, I know we must do more and I am committed to seeking innovative and effective ways of ensuring women are and feel safe.

“It is only natural that this horrendous incident will cause concern and I will be talking to the Chief Constable about how officers will reassure when approaching lone women, particularly at night.

Police at the scene of an alleged sexual assault on a young woman in Mareham Pastures nature reserve, Sleaford, in July - still unsolved. EMN-211207-114523001

“I know the Chief places a high importance on this too and I am confident the force will take appropriate action.”

Lincolnshire Police have offered this assurance about their procedures:

○ Police officers always carry identification and can always be asked for verification. They are used to providing that reassurance.

○ It would be extremely unusual for an officer in plain clothes to be working alone. If they are, they should be calling for assistance with other officers arriving very soon. This is standard practice.

○ In light of the actions of Sarah Everard’s murderer it is right that police officers expect and are tolerant of those who wish to be further reassured. They will want to explain and reassure who they are, what they are doing and why.

○ If you still feel things are not quite right or you are in imminent danger you must seek assistance, if that means shouting out to another member of the public, flagging a car down or even dialing 999 then do that.

The sexual assault on a young woman in Sleaford in July prompted a Reclaim the Night march calling for women to feel safer on the streets without being targeted by men. EMN-210726-100935001

After a series of isolated sexual assaults on women around the county, including in Sleaford, Boston and Lincoln, in recent months, Detective Chief Supt Andy Cox had previously said: “Sexual assault is a devastating crime. If you have been affected, please come to us and trust us to do our job with the upmost sensitivity.

“We have dedicated and specially trained officers to help you. We understand not everyone wants to report to us but regardless of your choice, there is help and support available that we want you to know about.

“We will not tell women and girls not to walk alone. We will not tell women and girls that they should change their behaviour. Sexual assault is never the result of the behaviour of the victim. It is, 100%, always the fault of the perpetrator.”

Jade Hope, who led the march through Sleaford and has gone on to set up a women’s safety group, said: “My thoughts are with Sarah’s family at this time. Our group has decided to arrange a ‘Talk Walk’ on October 10 to discuss our thoughts and feelings with everything that has been happening lately.

“The fact is that a lot of local women and girls are afraid. As far as I am aware no one has been charged with the sexual assault that occurred on Mareham Pastures and there have been other alarming incidents since.

“Sarah Everard experienced what we as women all fear and at the hands of someone who is supposed to protect us, it’s deeply upsetting and really quite unsettling.”

Policing minister Kit Malthouse said the case had struck a “devastating blow to the confidence that people have in police officers”, and he warned thousands of officers will need to do more so trust can be rebuilt.

Speaking on Sky News on Friday, Mr Malthouse said: “They recognise that this has struck a devastating blow to the confidence that people have in police officers but also in the Met Police in particular.

“For those thousands and thousands of police officers out there who will have to work harder – much harder – to win public trust, it is a very, very difficult time.”

Mr Malthouse said there are important lessons to learn from what happened.

“My job is effectively to help the Home Secretary hold the police to account about what went wrong, how this monster slipped through the net to become a police officer, how we can make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

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