PCC says 'change is desperately needed' for Sarah Everard

Sarah Everard was walking home alone when she disappeared.

Avon and Somerset Police have called for 'sustained change' after Priti Patel launched an inquiry into the issues raised after the death of Sarah Everard. - Credit: MPS

Avon and Somerset's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has stated 'sustained change is desperately needed' after the sentencing of Sarah Everard's killer.

Home Secretary Priti Patel launched an inquiry into the issues raised during the trial and lifelong conviction of former-Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens.

Couzens was handed a lifelong sentence for the murder of Ms Everard after kidnapping her under the guise of an arrest earlier this year.

MORE: Taxi firm introduces 'Sarah Everard policy' to keep customers safe at night.

Avon and Somerset's PCC, Mark Shelford, called the inquiry a 'much-need step' towards protecting women and girls across the country from violence.

Avon and Somerset Police back Priti Patel police inquiry.

PCC Mark Shelford believes the inquiry will trigger a wider investigation into police standards. - Credit: Avon and Somerset Police.

PCC Shelford said: “I believe this decision is a much-needed step to deliver demonstrable improvements within policing and the criminal justice system to tackle violence against women and girls. 

"Although the inquiry will be focusing on one particular incident – the appalling murder of Sarah Everard – it will no doubt trigger a wider review of vetting practices, professional standards and discipline, and behaviour in the workplace across these organisations at local and regional levels. 

"Sarah’s murder has raised some difficult questions and discussions for all police forces and the Home Office’s inquiry will continue to do so.

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"Sustained change is desperately needed and I firmly encourage Avon and Somerset Police to face these questions head-on, reflect and set actions to ensure officers and staff are upholding the highest standards of policing for our communities."

A task force chaired by Priti Patel will investigate how the police assess risk, threat and harm when responding and investigating non-contact sexual offences.

PCC Shelford added: "We know these offences can lead to more serious or repeat offending and we need to be encouraging officers to follow up cases, recognise patterns and connect separate incidents to help bring perpetrators and repeat offenders to justice."

Weston Grand Pier will shine pink in October in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Weston's Grand Pier declared itself a safe space for women earlier this year. - Credit: Weston Grand Pier

Days after vigils were held in memory of Sarah Everard, North Somerset Council told the Mercury and Times that it intended to create a women-led taskforce of its own to make women feel safer in the area.

MORE: Council to take women's advice on 'Millenium-old' safety concerns

A number of businesses, including the Grand Pier, also declared themselves as safe spaces for anyone in distress to visit.

PCC Shelford echoed this sentiment, saying now is the time to address these concerns.

He said: "50 per cent of the population should not feel unsafe after dark or feel unsafe to walk home alone or feel unsafe in public spaces or feel unsafe in the workplace; the list of places women and girls feel unsafe is endless.

"This needs to change. Now is the time for us all to put the onus back on the offender and actively challenge their behaviour. It is entirely the responsibility of men to change their behaviour and attitudes towards women.”