'Tomorrow we continue the fight' - Leeds reacts to the sentencing of Sarah Everard's killer

'Tomorrow we continue the fight'.

Friday, 1st October 2021, 4:45 am
Updated Friday, 1st October 2021, 5:30 am

That was the rallying cry of West Yorkshire’s Deputy Mayor Alison Lowe following the sentencing of Sarah Everard’s killer.

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West Yorkshire mayor calls for evidence on improving safety for women and girls ...

Wayne Couzens will die behind bars after kidnapping, raping and murdering Sarah Everard.

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Sarah Everard's tragic death has sparked many into action. Picture: Family handout/CPS

The ex-PC, 48, was handed a whole life sentence at the Old Bailey yesterday by Lord Justice Fulford, who said his “warped, selfish and brutal” offences had eroded confidence in the police.

Lord Justice Fulford said the case in which a serving officer abused his position was so exceptional it warranted a whole life order, meaning Couzens will never be freed.

Couzens, who pleaded guilty to Ms Everard’s kidnap, rape and murder, did not lift his head to face his victim’s family, who on Wednesday had asked him to look at them as they read emotional victim impact statements.

Speaking after the sentencing Ms Lowe told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It’s a dark time for women but tomorrow we continue the fight for a safer West Yorkshire and a safer UK for all women and girls. And I invite those men amongst us who are like-minded, and there are many, they are legion, to come with us.”

The West Yorkshire Mayor's office are leading the charge for a safer Leeds. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

She said she is working closely with the Mayor, Tracy Brabin, to hold the people to account for the way that they work with victims.

Violence against women has been on the rise recently with Ms Lowe revealing that the Victim Support Service set up within West Yorkshire has seen the number of incidents reported increase by 11,000 in the past 12 months.

Part of the work being done by the West Yorkshire Mayor’s office to tackle the issue is a focus on educating young men in the area of consent .

Ms Lowe added: “We have bid for money to do work with students in universities, working with young men on areas surrounding consent, women’s rights and about how to respect women and behave appropriately.”

Wayne Couzens was sentenced to life without parole. Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire

Launching in Leeds next week will be the ‘Ask For Angela’ scheme, aimed at local pubs, clubs and other licensed businesses and is designed as a code word for women and men who feel unsafe, vulnerable or threatened to discreetly ask for help from venue staff.

This is a scheme largely supported by those from Women Friendly Leeds.

Key organiser Emily Turner said: “We are working on having a really visible Ask For Angela campaign with stickers on windows, stickers on the back of toilet doors so that you can have confidence that if you were to Ask For Angela in that venue that they would know what you are talking about.”

Miss Turner went on to underline the importance of such a scheme but also the importance of police response to incidents, stating: “If a woman reports a sexual violence or rape then I would like a female officer to attend to that person every time.

“At the moment you can request one, but if you can request one then surely they are available.

“I would also like the police to be really clear about the reporting system – what the options are and how that works to make the process as straightforward as possible for victims.”

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