Calls for Cressida Dick to ‘quit now’ over horrifying murder of Sarah Everard at hands of police officer

·Political Correspondent - Yahoo News UK
·5 min read
MP Harriet Harman has called on Cressida Dick to resign over  the death of Sarah Everard at the hands of serving police officer  Wayne Couzens (PA Images)
MP Harriet Harman has called on Met Police chief Cressida Dick to resign over the death of Sarah Everard at the hands of serving police officer Wayne Couzens. (PA Images)

Senior Labour MP Harriet Harman has called on Met police commissioner Cressida Dick to resign following the sentencing of Wayne Couzens for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard.

Couzens was handed a rare full-life sentence at the Old Bailey on Thursday for his crime, described by judge Lord Justice Fulford as “devastating, tragic and wholly brutal”.

The serving police officer used his position to falsely arrest and kidnap Everard, claiming she was breaking COVID legislation, before putting her in handcuffs and into his car.

After Ms Everard's death, it emerged officers that worked with Couzens had in the past allegedly referred to him as "The Rapist", according to the Daily Mail

Read more: Sarah Everard – The questions police must answer

He had also previously been accused of indecent exposure on a number of occasions.

Kent Police and the Metropolitan Police are both facing probes for allegedly failing to properly investigate the allegations.

Harman wrote in a letter addressed to Dick: "Following the heartbreaking and horrifying killing of Sarah Everard by a serving Metropolitan Police officer, women's confidence will have been shattered.

"Women need to be confident that the police are there to make them safe, and not to put them at risk.

"Women need to be able to trust the police, not to fear them."

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick speaking outside the Old Bailey in central London after Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens pleaded guilty to the murder of Sarah Everard. Picture date: Friday July 9, 2021.
Metropolitan police commissioner Cressida Dick came under fire over her handling of policing during the vigil for Sarah Everard. (PA)

She added: "I think it is not possible for you to lead these necessary actions in the Metropolitan Police."

Dick failed to answer questions about whether she would resign after making a statement on Thursday afternoon.

Speaking outside the Old Bailey, Dick said she recognised the “brutal” murder of Ms Everard had damaged trust in the police.

“This man has brought shame on the Met. Speaking frankly as an organisation, we have been rocked," she said. 

“I absolutely know that there are those that feel their trust in us is shaken. I recognise that for some people, a precious bond of trust has been damaged.”

Harman also wrote to home secretary Priti Patel, calling for Dick’s resignation.

Watch: ‘Should Cressida Dick resign, prime minister?’

But while the home secretary said "serious questions" needed to be answered by the Met, she continued to back commissioner Dick.

Speaking at the Home Office, Patel said: “There are questions, serious questions that need to be answered by the Metropolitan Police … from the very day that Sarah went missing, I have been, clearly, in contact with the Metropolitan Police and putting forward some questions around the conduct of the potential suspect at the time and all the requirements and checks that should have been put in place."

When asked if Dick should resign, she said: “I will continue to work with the Metropolitan Police and the commissioner to hold them to account as everybody would expect me to do, and I will continue to do that.”

Describing Couzens as a “monster” and the case as “sickening” and an “appalling tragedy”, Patel added: “It is right that he has been given a whole-life tariff and with that he can never walk the streets of our country again.”

Wayne Couzens used his police powers to falsely arrest Sarah Everard, before raping and murdering her. He was handed a rare whole life sentence on Thursday (PA Images)
Wayne Couzens used his police powers to falsely arrest Sarah Everard, before raping and murdering her. (PA Images)

Others joined the calls, including Jamie Klinger, co-founder of women's rights campaign group Reclaim These Streets.

Klinger said Dick's position was now untenable. "[Couzens] being in a police department, being nicknamed the rapist and no-one stopping him? Indecent exposure and no-one is stopping him?" she said.

"It’s unfathomable. And it’s unfathomable that Cressida Dick stays in her position."

She went on to say that women were being "picked off" like "big game". "They are picking us off like we are big game. It’s terrifying.

(Yahoo News)
(Yahoo News)

"We are all broken-hearted and scared and no-one cares enough to make it a fundamental priority."

Dick has regularly come under criticism while commissioner for the Met Police, notably over the policing of vigils in memory of Ms Everard.

Prior to being appointed in 2011, Dick headed an operation as deputy commissioner which resulted in the fatal shooting of an innocent man, Jean Charles de Mendez; she was cleared of personal blame in 2007.

She has also been widely criticised for the Met’s use of stop and search powers which have been frequently described as racist by campaigners, although Dick has staunchly defended the police’s use of those powers.

Police surround the band stand in Clapham Common, London, after the Reclaim These Streets vigil for Sarah Everard was officially cancelled. Serving police constable Wayne Couzens, 48, has appeared in court charged with kidnapping and killing the marketing executive, who went missing while walking home from a friend's flat in south London on March 3. Picture date: Saturday March 13, 2021.
Police surround the band stand in Clapham Common, London, after the Reclaim These Streets vigil for Sarah Everard was officially cancelled. (PA)

In March this year, calls for her resignation reached a fever pitch after the Met Police manhandled and arrested women attending a vigil for Ms Everard, using COVID legislation to justify their policing of the event.

Dick defended her officers, said the vigil was unlawful, hit out at "armchair critics" and said the events at the vigil on Clapham Common had made her "more determined" in her role as commissioner.

“I feel for my officers," she said. "They have to make these really difficult calls and I don’t think anybody should be sitting back in an armchair and saying, ‘Well, that was done badly’ or ‘I would’ve done it differently’ without actually understanding what was going through their minds."

Watch: Murderer Wayne Couzens falsely blames Eastern European gang for Sarah Everard’s disappearance

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