Sarah Everard: This is what West Midland Police is doing to protect women as Wayne Couzens is jailed

West Midlands Police outline its plans to improve policies to keep women and girls stay safe as questions raised about trusting the police after serving Metropolitan offer Wayne Couzens was jailed for the murder of Sarah Everard

West Midlands Police have admitted that ‘the voice of women and girls has not been reflected as it should be’ in its policing plans - following a survey conducted into views on women’s safety.

A spokeswoman for the force said that West Midlands officers will do ‘everything they can’ so that women and girls feel safe on the streets.

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The comments come after a serving Metropolitan Police Officer was sentenced to life in prison for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard.

Wayne Couzens was sentenced to a whole-life term at the Old Bailey yesterday (Thursday September 30). The firearms specialist, 48, used his warrant card and handcuffs to kidnap Sarah while he was off-duty as she walked home from visiting a friend in Clapham, south London, on the evening of 3 March.

Ms Everard’s murder prompted national outrage and sparked protests at the rate of violence against women.

The West Midlands Police survey ran until June this year in response to Sarah’s death and the death of Police Community Support Officer Julia James who died while she was out walking her dog in Kent in April.

Former Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, was handed a whole life order at the Old Bailey for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard. (Picture: PA)

‘We want to rebuild trust’

As the harrowing details of Ms Everard’s murder were unveiled following the court case, a spokeswoman for West Midlands Police said that ‘the voice of women and girls has not been reflected as it should be in our policing priorities and plans’.

In a statement issued to BirminghamWorld, the spokeswoman said: “We understand there is deep shock and anger within policing after what we have heard over the past two days about the horrifying circumstances in which Sarah Everard’s life was taken.

“The sentencing of Wayne Couzens cannot remove the pain and suffering of Sarah’s family or loved ones. They have shown such courage and dignity throughout these dark times and our thoughts remain with them.

“Our communities have been left asking questions about the trust they can place in us as a police service. We come into this job to keep the public safe and there is an absolute determination to work hard to regain that public trust.

“We will do everything we can, including being part of the wider discussion taking place in society today so that women and girls feel safe on their own streets.

“We must and we will continue to work harder with every part of the justice system and the communities we serve to rebuild trust and make our streets as safe as possible for women and girls.

“We have always taken violence against women and girls seriously. However, we accept that the voice of women and girls has not been reflected as it should be in our policing priorities and plans.

“We’ve recently conducted a survey to ask you for your thoughts and this will be reflected in our plans.

“While policing cannot provide all the solutions to end this violence, we have a major role to play in making women and girls feel safe and confident to report, as well as preventing harm and bringing perpetrators to justice.”

PCSO Julia James

‘Challenge lone police officers’ Met tells Londoners

Following the court case against Wayne Couzens, Metropolitan Police offered guidance for people concerned about being approached by a lone police officer - including challenging officers’ legitimacy and waving down a passing bus.

The spokeswoman for West Midlands Police said they are assuring the public that their officers will provide reassurance and verify who they are.

“We want to rebuild trust and make our streets as safe as possible and as part of this we want to reassure you that you are safe when interacting with us,” they said.

“It’s our responsibility to do this and all our officers are being advised to make sure that they readily provide this reassurance to verify who they are if asked.

“We always want to explain and give reassurance about who we are, what we are doing and why.

“If you still feel things aren’t quite right or you are in imminent danger, please seek assistance, if that means shouting out to another member of the public, flagging a car down or even dialling 999 then do that.”

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster

West Midlands Police Crime Commissioner Simon Foster says combatting violence against women must be a top priority

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, said: “Wayne Couzens exploited his position as a police officer to commit an abhorrent and brutal crime.

“He will now, quite rightly, spend the rest of his life behind bars. My thoughts are with Sarah Everards family and friends.

“It is absolutely essential that the public have trust and confidence in policing. Each force will be looking closely at what action needs to be taken to ensure that public safety is always paramount.

“Combatting violence against women must be a top priority for policing, our criminal justice system, local authorities, health and education. We also need to challenge and change the attitudes of men who perpetrate violence against women.

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