Sarah Everard's murder sparked 'tidal wave' of grief and concern over women's safety

ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers reports on the wider debate sparked by Sarah Everard's death about what needs to be reformed to stop women feeling unsafe

The death of Sarah Everard sparked an outpouring of concern about women’s safety and the lengths women have to go to in an attempt to feel and be safe.

Campaigners questioned how the 33-year-old came to be kidnapped and killed as she walked home along a busy London road at around 9.30pm, having been on the phone to her boyfriend just minutes before.

Her death prompted thousands of women to share stories on social media about how they had been harassed while out in the street or on public transport.

The outpouring prompted the Home Office to reopen a public consultation on tackling violence against women and girls, which received more than 160,000 responses.

In the days after Ms Everard’s disappearance on March 3 and the discovery of her body a week later, plans were mooted for improving women’s safety, including posting undercover police officers in nightclubs.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at the time: "The horrific case of Sarah Everard has unleashed a wave of feeling about women not feeling safe at night.

"We must do everything we can to ensure our streets are safe.

"Ultimately, we must drive out violence against women and girls and make every part of the criminal justice system work to better protect and defend them," he added.

Jamie Klingler, one of the founders of campaign group Reclaim These Streets that was formed in the wake of the marketing executive’s death, said it was the start of a movement.

She said: "It feels like a tidal wave of half of the population saying: 'This is your problem, you need to fix it and you need to fix it now – we’re not taking it any more'."

Jamie Klingler, from Reclaim These Streets, speaking to the media in Clapham Common, south London, in March Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

Many people have shared their experiences on social media.

"Sarah Everard did everything right. Everything women are ‘supposed’ to. Bright clothing. Main road. Called her man," posted Twitter user @thelaurabird at the time.

"Every woman I know in Clapham doesn’t feel safe at night. Not to walk home from work, to exercise, to walk to the shop. I wish more men understood this feeling."

Other women said they regularly message their friends to share their location so that they can keep track of each other and take alternative routes home when they feel they are being followed.

"I remember a man following me as I was walking home asking for my number once and I was like ‘oh great now I have to detour so he doesn’t know where I live’," posted journalist and writer Mollie Goodfellow.

A series of vigils were held across the country in memory of the 33-year-old as the public reacted with shock at her death.

Patsy Stevenson, whose arrest during one of the early vigils became emblematic of the struggle for women to be listened to, said she wished a movement like this happen before Sarah's Everard's death that could have made it avoidable.

"I think it was just one of those moments were we collectively thought 'that's enough, we're not going to be silent about this, this is something that happens to us all the time and it can't go on'", Stevenson told ITV News. "As a society we have misogyny and sexism intertwined into it, so it's not just something that can change overnight, but I think it was a big moment for people to realise: 'actually this isn't ok'", she added.

Fighting back tears, Stevenson said: "I've seen so many women got through so many things, and I don't know a single woman that hasn't been through something like this".

"I just wish a movement like this happen before [Sarah Everard's death]."

A vigil held for Sarah Everard Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

The event held in London on Clapham Common, near where Ms Everard disappeared, was mired in controversy after the Metropolitan Police arrested a number of protesters.

The original organisers Reclaim These Streets had cancelled their planned event after the force told them they could face £10,000 fines under coronavirus restrictions.

But up to 1,500 people attended the March 13 vigil anyway, remaining peaceful for several hours during the afternoon before clashes with police in the evening.

The Met’s handling of the event drew unfavourable comparisons with Nottingham, where a smaller vigil attended by around 150 people was held peacefully.

Watchdog Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of the Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) later cleared the force of accusations of heavy-handedness and breaching the right to protest.