Priti Patel has said the case of missing Sarah Everard is ‘deeply disturbing’ and has ‘sickened’ police officers as she vows to publish a national strategy to tackle violence against women and girls by the end of the year.
The Home Secretary made the pledge following the disappearance of the marketing manager 33, as she walked home from Clapham, south London, on March 3.
On Wednesday human remains were found in Ashford, Kent, by police searching for Miss Everard – a day after serving police officer Wayne Couzens was arrested in connection with her disappearance.
The 48-year-old was also arrested in connection with an unrelated allegation of indecent exposure, said to have happened three days before Sarah went missing.
Speaking about the arrest, Ms Patel said: ‘The police hold positions of trust in our communities and it is deeply disturbing to imagine that someone who we would all put our faith in if in danger could allegedly be responsible for such an abhorrent crime.’
Priti Patel said police officers were ‘sickened,’ by the case of missing Sarah Everard, 33, as a 48-year-old Met Police officer remains in custody in connection with her disappearance
Priti Patel promised to publish a Government strategy by the end of this year that focused on tackling violence against women and girls
Writing in The Sun, Ms Patel said: ‘If you are feeling angry or worried, please try to remember that tens of thousands of police officers are equally sickened by what has happened, and there are currently hundreds of dedicated officers working night and day to bring the perpetrator to justice.’
Ms Patel pledged to publish a Government strategy dedicated to cracking down on gender-based violence by the end of this year.
The strategy will be based on the findings of the UK’s first ever public survey on violence against women and girls.
Ms Patel added: ‘With Sarah and her family in my thoughts and prayers, I will continue to do all I can in my role as Home Secretary to protect women and girls.’
Ms Patel said it was ‘deeply disturbing,’ that a Met Police officer ‘could allegedly be responsible for such an abhorrent crime’. Wayne Couzens remains in police custody at this stage
Sarah’s disappearance has ignited fury over the issues of female safety with hundreds of women openly discussing the fear they have felt when alone in public day or night.
Reclaim These Streets marches, designed to show that women should feel safe no matter the time of day, are now being organised.
In a statement released yesterday, Ms Patel said: ‘I am deeply saddened by he developments in the Sarah Everard investigation.
‘My heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with Sarah, her family and friends at this unbearable time.
‘Many women have shared their stories and concerns online since Sarah’s disappearance last week.
‘These are so powerful because each and every woman can relate. Every woman should feel safe to walk on our streets without fear of harassment or violence.
‘At this deeply sad and tragic time as we think and pray for Sarah and her family. I will continue through my role to do all I can to protect women and girls from violence and harassment.’
Priti Patel has said that ‘every woman should feel safe to walk on our streets’ as dozens share their harrowing personal stories with #saraheverard and #TooManyMen as Reclaim These Streets marches are announced
Ms Patel vowed that she would ‘do all she can to protect women and girls from violence and harassment’ and praised women for sharing their own experiences on social media
Dozens of women have shared their stories of being stalked in light of Sarah’s disappearance, including Labour MP Diane Abbott, actor Katy Brand and author Caitlin Moran.
Diane Abbott wrote: ‘Even after all these years if I am out late at night on an isolated street & I hear a man’s footsteps behind me I automatically cross the road.
‘It is the habit of a lifetime to try & keep safe. But it should not have to be like this #SarahEverard.’
Katy Brand also said: ‘Important to clarify I think that although instances of kidnap and murder from a stranger are indeed rare, being aggressively followed in the street by a man is not rare at all.
‘I think it would be good to separate the two things. Lots of us have been scared many times.’
And Caitlin Moran added: ‘Being a woman: my ‘outside’ day finishes at sundown. If I haven’t taken the dog for a walk/jogged by then, I can’t. In the winter, it often means the choice between exercise and work. Today, I had to stop work at 4 to exercise. My husband worked until 6, and is now off for a run.
‘I am 45 and it is 2021 and I am essentially under a curfew. Like all women. And there are absolutely no exit plans for this. It’s just presumed women will stay home when it’s dark… forever.’
Labour MP Diane Abbott (left) and author Caitlin Moran (right) are among those who have spoken out about their own experiences
Dozens of women have shared their stories of being stalked in light of Sarah’s disappearance, including Labour MP Diane Abbott, actor Katy Brand and author Caitlin Moran
Sky’s Kate McCann also issued a tweet that read: ‘What happened to Sarah Everard has hit home hard for so many women because we make the calculations she did every day too.
‘We take the longer, better-lit route, push the fear aside for the voice that says ‘don’t be daft, you’ve every right to walk home alone at night and be safe’.’
And members of the public were quick to follow suit as one wrote: ‘As a teenager I’d walk home at night with keys clutched in my hand, always thinking which was the nearest house I knew someone that I could run to if needed.
‘Wish I didn’t have to tell my teenage daughter to do this 30 years later. Thinking of Sarah’s family #ReclaimTheNight.’
Another added: ‘From the moment we reach puberty women get used to being flashed, followed, touched being told what we should & shouldn’t do.
‘Almost all of us has had the experience of wearing flat shoes for a quick get away, keys in hand, phone ready, looking over our shoulder #ReclaimTheNight.’
Reclaim These Streets marches, designed to show that women should feel safe no matter the time of day, are now being organised
And members of the public were quick to follow suit with their own personal concerns and stories
A third commented: ‘Every woman you know has taken a longer route.
‘Has doubled back on herself. Has pretended to dawdle by a shop window. Has held her keys in her hand.
‘Has made a fake phone call. Has rounded a corner and run. Every woman you know has walked home scared. Every woman you know.’
Dr Julia Grace Patterson: ‘This must be a moment of reckoning’
Dr Julia Grace Patterson, who runs campaigning organisation EveryDoctor UK, took to Twitter to share her own experience
Dr Julia Grace Patterson, who runs campaigning organisation EveryDoctor UK, took to Twitter to share her own harrowing experience.
She wrote: ‘I feel exposed tweeting this, but I think I’ll do it anyway. I cried tears of anger and exhaustion and heartache last night for Sarah.
‘But I also cried for all women. I was attacked on the street by a man when I was at medical school.
‘My facial injuries meant I had to seek A+E treatment. I was then stalked by the police officer who’d taken my evidence (my passport, bag and keys, which had been stuffed in a nearby bin).
‘I was called daily by this police officer who said he was handling my case. Eventually when he accepted I’d turned down his romantic advances, he sent my things to a police station in the outskirts of London, and it took me several weeks to track them down.
‘I had no ID, no phone, no money. I was a new student in London. I had PTSD symptoms from my attack, physical injuries, and shame I didn’t report him because I felt stupid, like I’d done something wrong.
‘Like my presence on that street in broad daylight has attracted the attack. I am still scared of walking alone in my own neighbourhood at night. Sarah could be any one of us and I’m devastated for her.
‘I’m devastated for all of us. This must be a moment of reckoning. It’s 2021. #saraheverand.’
It comes as organisers announce the first Reclaim These Streets protest will be held on Clapham Common near to where the Durham University grad was last seen alive.
The event organisers said: ‘We believe that streets should be safe for women, regardless of what you wear, where you live or what time of day or night it is.
‘We shouldn’t have to wear bright colours when we walk home and clutch our keys in our fists to feel safe.
‘It’s wrong that the response to violence against women requires women to behave differently.
‘In Clapham, police told women not to go out at night this week.
‘Women are not the problem.
‘We’ve all been following the tragic case of Sarah Everard over the last week.
‘This is a vigil for Sarah, but also for all women who feel unsafe, who go missing from our streets and who face violence every day.
‘Come to the bandstand on Clapham Common at 6pm on Saturday March 13 to reclaim these streets and our public spaces.
‘This event is for and about women, but open to all. Bring a light to remember those we’ve lost.’
Organiser Jamie Klingler said: ‘Every WhatsApp group I am in is filled with dread over Sarah Everard.
‘All of us are replaying the millions of times we, as urban adults, have walked home at night.
‘That we have taken for granted that we deserve to be safe.
‘My heart is breaking for her family.’
The organisers said campaigners should maintain social distancing and, across the county, other Reclaim These Streets marches are springing up in cities such as Cambridge.
Sarah disappeared after leaving a friend’s house in Leathwaite Road, Clapham, at about 9pm on March 3.
She was thought to be making the 50-minute walk to her home in Brixton where she lives alone.
Detectives believe she walked over Clapham Common and was seen on CCTV about halfway through the journey, on the A205 Poynders Road at 9.30pm.
She had been on the phone with her boyfriend Josh Lowth, also 33, for 15 minutes but after that her phone lost signal or was switched off.
She was not seen on CCTV further down the road, or by her flat in Brixton.
Police have since arrested a serving Metropolitan Police officer in connection with her disappearance.
He has been arrested on suspicion of murder, kidnapping and a unrelated charge of exposure.
The man, in his 40s, remains in police custody and is being questioned by detectives.
Tips to Find Low Priced Luxury Holiday Package Deals Fast