Women's safety: Our MPs speak out after Sarah Everard murder

Sarah Everard who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens

Sarah Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens - Credit: PA

Concerns about women's safety have been thrust to the forefront of people's minds following the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens.

Couzens has been given a whole-life prison sentence for his heinous crime, but subsequent safety advice issued to women by the Met Police and other organisations has come under fire for putting the onus on women to protect themselves, rather than on tackling the problem of male violence.

With violence against women endemic in our society, and people's trust in police broken, we asked our MPs for their views.

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland - Credit: Parliamentary office of Stephen McPartland

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland said: “It is horrific so many people, especially women, do not feel safe and are frightened of the police.

“Many police officers do an amazing job and put themselves in harm's way to protect others. I have met so many brilliant police officers and am proud to call some my friends, but they are being let down by a small number of thugs in uniform.

"Senior police officers have a lot to answer for, as over the years they have given the impression that rogue police officers can retire to prevent being sacked or prosecuted when they are found to have acted inappropriately.

“Women do not feel safe, they do not feel protected by the police and the connection between police officers and the community has been broken.

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"Every police force has to show they are stamping out inappropriate behaviour, and they should have a zero tolerance approach.

“Police officers are shocked and dismayed at recent events and are devastated women, especially, no longer trust them. It will take time, but actions speak louder than words and the police have to work very hard to rebuild that trust.”

North East Hertfordshire MP Oliver Heald headshot

North East Hertfordshire MP Oliver Heald - Credit: Richard Townshend Photography

North East Hertfordshire MP Oliver Heald said: "It has made many people, particularly women, question their safety.

"Recent cases raise questions about vetting for police generally and specialist high security units.

"I think women already think carefully about their safety and it is not good enough to say the solution is in the hands of women.

"I welcome the independent inquiry into the Metropolitan Police and their culture and I do think we need to see more care in selecting police, and a greater concentration on tackling violence against women with firmer sentencing.

"I have been out on patrol with police locally and worked with the police when I used to prosecute cases as a barrister. There are many fine people in the police doing great work to keep us all safe. They also deserve improvements to the service to ensure the police are concentrating on these worrying offences and that they are the best they can be."

Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami headshot

Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami - Credit: Richard Townshend Photography

Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami said: “I have written to the Home Secretary with my support for the independent review [into the Met Police], and to ask that the lessons learnt are cascaded to all police forces.

"Pervasive and toxic misogyny has no place in our frontline services or anywhere in our society.

"Commentators who have spouted some shamefully patronising and victim-blaming things need to give some serious thought to how they relate to these situations and their victims.

"This incident and others have sparked much-needed dialogue on the subject of personal safety. I have spoken to constituents about their own experiences of threats to personal safety, of traumatic and frightening encounters, intimidating incidents, near-misses, close-calls and silent fears.

"In light of these conversations, I will be launching a local personal safety campaign to coincide with the longer, darker evenings. More to come on this soon.”

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