LONDON — A police officer was charged late Friday with kidnapping and murdering Sarah Everard, a advertising government who went lacking in South London final week and whose disappearance had touched off a nationwide outcry over violence in opposition to ladies.
The Metropolitan Police mentioned that the officer, Wayne Couzens, 48, whose major function was patrolling diplomatic premises, would seem in courtroom on Saturday to face the costs.
A physique that was discovered this week in a wooded space in southeast England was definitively recognized as Ms. Everard’s earlier on Friday, ending days of uncertainty.
In simply days, her case had come to represent a longstanding downside that many ladies mentioned plagues Britain and will not be ignored: that at residence or in public areas, many ladies aren’t protected.
“Useless ladies is simply a kind of issues,” Jess Phillips, a Labour lawmaker, mentioned in Parliament on Thursday, lamenting the prevalence of violence in opposition to ladies within the nation.
Through the parliamentary session, an annual commemoration of Worldwide Ladies’s Day, Ms. Phillips read out the names of 118 ladies who had been killed over the previous 12 months in instances through which a person was convicted or charged within the case. “Killed ladies aren’t vanishingly uncommon, killed ladies are frequent,” she mentioned.
Mr. Couzens had been arrested earlier this week in Kent, 80 miles southeast of London, together with a lady in her 30s who was detained on suspicion of helping an offender. She has since been launched.
Mr. Couzens was being held on suspicion of indecent publicity in a separate episode that seems to have occurred days earlier than Ms. Everard’s disappearance. The regulatory physique overseeing the police is investigating whether or not two officers acted appropriately in dealing with that case.
Ms. Everard left a good friend’s home within the Clapham neighborhood, in south London, round 9 p.m. on March 3, and he or she was final seen on a CCTV digicam at 9.30 p.m. in a residential space. The journey residence ought to have taken her round 50 minutes.
The stays of a physique had been found in Kent by the police on Wednesday, dimming hopes that Ms. Everard can be discovered alive.
“Sarah was vivid and exquisite — a beautiful daughter and sister,” her household mentioned on Thursday. “She was sort and considerate, caring and reliable,” they added, describing her as “a shining instance to us all.”
The testimonies from ladies recounting their experiences of assault, harassment in public areas and strolling the streets in concern had been met with widespread assist by lawmakers in Parliament on Thursday.
“How typically have we mentioned to a good friend on the way in which residence: ‘Be protected, textual content me once you get residence,’” mentioned Angela Crawley, from the Scottish Nationwide Get together. “The concern alone ought to inform us we’ve an issue.”
Rosie Duffield, a Labour occasion lawmaker, mentioned the testimonies of harassment circulating on social media confirmed that girls had had sufficient. “We’re uninterested in having to risk-assess each unusual on a regular basis motion each hour of day-after-day of our lives,” she mentioned.
Though the police authorities mentioned this week that abductions in London had been uncommon, Mayor Sadiq Khan acknowledged on Friday that the British capital’s streets weren’t protected sufficient for girls. He additionally referred to as on males to pay attention to the imbalance between ladies’s experiences and theirs.
“In case you’re a lady or a lady, your experiences of our metropolis, in any public house, whether or not it’s within the office, on the streets, on public transport, may be very totally different to in case you are a person or a boy,” Mr. Khan mentioned on LBC radio.
The homicide of Ms. Everard is probably going so as to add urgency to a plan geared toward tackling violence in opposition to ladies and women that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s authorities mentioned it could unveil later this 12 months.
In line with Finish Violence Towards Ladies, a coalition of researchers and organizations, greater than 500,000 ladies are sexually assaulted yearly in Britain. One in 5 ladies might be subjected to sexual assault throughout her lifetime, in line with nationwide statistics.
“It’s the risk, the concern of one thing occurring to you,” mentioned Mandu Reid, the chief of Britain’s Equality Get together. “Each single lady and girl has to stay this with each single day of their lives.”
The arrest of Mr. Couzens, who joined the Metropolitan Police in 2018 and had been with a unit referred to as the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Safety Command since final 12 months, has additionally added a way of anger and insecurity. On Friday, the Metropolitan Police confronted even larger scrutiny after the police watchdog introduced that it was investigating whether or not two officers had “responded appropriately” to the allegation of indecent publicity in opposition to him.
The alleged incident occurred on Feb. 28 at a fast-food restaurant in South London, the police watchdog mentioned, three days earlier than Ms. Everard disappeared. It stays unclear why Mr. Couzens was not suspended following the incident.
“If that had been adopted up, he would have been suspended from responsibility,” mentioned Mick Neville, a former chief detective inspector on the Metropolitan Police. “Officers should have handled this as a minor matter, not considering that he was a police officer, and in hindsight, it took tragic proportions.”
Mr. Couzens labored on the day of Ms. Everard’s disappearance, however was off responsibility when she was final seen.
In a separate however associated dispute, the organizers of a vigil for Ms. Everard that was deliberate for Saturday mentioned that the Metropolitan Police had referred to as the gathering illegal due to coronavirus restrictions, and that it had threatened to advantageous them.
A courtroom in London dominated on Friday that the gathering could possibly be deemed illegal by the authorities. “Our message to those that had been trying to attend vigils in London this weekend, together with at Clapham Widespread, is keep at residence or discover a lawful and safer option to specific your views,” Cmdr. Catherine Roper of the Metropolitan Police mentioned.
House Secretary Priti Patel, who oversees the nation’s police forces, sought to comprise mounting criticism in opposition to the Metropolitan Police on Friday.
“If you’re feeling offended or anxious, please attempt to do not forget that tens of 1000’s of law enforcement officials are equally sickened by what has occurred, and there are at the moment a whole bunch of devoted officers working evening and day to deliver the perpetrator to justice,” Ms. Patel wrote in The Solar newspaper.
Nick Ephgrave, an assistant commissioner on the Metropolitan Police, mentioned, “I do know that the general public really feel deeply damage and offended and I converse on behalf of all my colleagues once I say that we too are horrified.”