Sarah Everard: Three years on from her murder as report calls for 'radical overhaul' of police

Sarah Everard was abducted, raped and killed by Wayne Couzens as she walked home in south London on March 3, 2021 Credit: PA

Today marks three years since the murder of Sarah Everard in the same week a damning report found a "radical overhaul" of policing practices and culture is needed.

The 33-year-old marketing executive was raped and killed by Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, who was off duty, as she walked home in south London on March 3, 2021.

The 51-year-old used his status as a police officer to trick Ms Everard into thinking he could arrest her for breaking lockdown rules in place at the time.

Ms Everard’s family said she died because Couzens was a police officer and she “would never have got into a stranger’s car”.

A report published this week following an inquiry chaired by Lady Elish Angiolini said Couzens should never have been given a job as a police officer and chances to stop the sexual predator were repeatedly ignored and missed.

Several women's rights organisations and charities have taken to social media to share tributes to Ms Everard.

A statement from Solace Women's Aid condemned the lack of action, reading: "Our deep sadness at what happened to Sarah three years ago has not changed.

"Once again, we send our thoughts and our love to her family and her friends, and to so many other women who have been through too much trauma and abuse over the last few decades.

"We have to believe that surely now, with all the evidence of the failings, with all the recommendations for improvement, changes will finally be made, for Sarah and for all of us."

Speaking on X, Reclaim These Streets co-founder Jamie Klingler posted: "Three years since the horrific abduction rape & murder of Sarah Everard and despite all of the promises,the government and police have failed to improve women’s safety."

Marking the anniversary, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said his thoughts are with the family and loved ones of Ms Everard on the “unimaginably difficult day” which marks the third anniversary of her murder.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said it will ‘take years’ to repair trust in police Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

Mr Khan said it will “take years” to repair the damaged trust and confidence in the police.

“My thoughts are with the family and loved ones of Sarah Everard on the third anniversary of her tragic death, on what must be an unimaginably difficult day for all those who knew and loved Sarah,” he said.

“Sarah’s murder by a serving police officer horrified the entire country and significantly damaged the trust and confidence women and girls have in the police. This will take years to repair.”

Ms Everard’s abduction and murder galvanised demands for tackling violence towards women.

Mr Khan said: “We owe it to Sarah, Zara Aleena, Sabina Nessa, Nicole Smallman, Bibaa Henry and every other woman who has had their life brutally stolen from them to do all we can to prevent violence against women and girls.”

Wayne Couzens should never have been given a job as a police officer, an inquiry chaired by Lady Elish Angiolini found Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

In March 2023, the Casey Review, commissioned by the Met in the wake of Ms Everard’s murder, found the force was institutionally racist, homophobic and misogynist, and there might be more officers like Couzens in its ranks.

“As mayor, I have ensured the Met is now on a path of far-reaching reform and we are starting to see some improvements, with stronger vetting and the removal of more rogue police officers and staff,” Mr Khan said.

“But the recent findings from the Angiolini Inquiry highlight how far policing in this country still has to go to raise standards and rebuild trust.

Zara Aleena was murdered by Jordan McSweeney as she walked home from a night out in Ilford, east London, in 2022 Credit: Family Handout/PA

“I will continue to do everything in my power to support and hold the Commissioner to account on delivering the vital cultural and performance reforms needed so that we can continue building a safer London for everyone – particularly for women and girls who have been let down for far too long.”

Law graduate, Zara Aleena, 35, was murdered by Jordan McSweeney as she walked home from a night out in Ilford, east London, on June 26, 2022.

Her killer was jailed for life but a probation report in January found McSweeney had been incorrectly assessed as medium rather than high risk when he was freed from his ninth prison term.

This meant he should have been returned to jail for breaching the terms of his release.

Koci Selamaj is serving a life sentence for the murder of teacher Sabina Nessa Credit: Met Police/PA

Sabina Nessa, a 28-year-old primary school teacher, was murdered by Albanian-born Koci Selamaj in south-east London on September 17, 2021.

After her murder, Mr Khan said there was “an epidemic” of violence against women and girls.

Sisters Nicole Smallman, 27, and Bibaa Henry, 46, were stabbed to death by Danyal Hussein in north-west London on June 6, 2020.

Sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman were stabbed to death while in a park in Wembley in June 2020 Credit: left

Former Met constables Deniz Jaffer and Jamie Lewis were subsequently jailed for sharing photographs of the women’s bodies on WhatsApp.

In response to the Angiolini inquiry, Home Secretary James Cleverly announced that police officers will be automatically suspended in future if charged with certain criminal offences.

Meanwhile, Labour has said it will introduce compulsory violence against women and girls training for every police officer and promised an overhaul of police vetting procedures.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…