Wayne Couzens charged with Sarah Everard's murder

A woman in her 30s held on suspicion of assisting an offender has been released on bail

CORRECTION / An undated handout picture released by the Metropolitan Police on March 10, 2021, shows missing Sarah Everard who went missing in south London on the night of March 3. A police officer in London's diplomatic protection force was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of murder following the disappearance of a 33-year-old woman while she was walking home, police said. The arrest follow a week-long investigation into the disappearance of Sarah Everard, who vanished while walking home from a friend's flat in south London on the evening of March 3. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / METROPOLITAN POLICE " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
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A serving British police officer has been charged with murder and kidnapping 33-year-old Sarah Everard, London's Metropolitan Police said on Friday.

Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said Wayne Couzens has been charged with murder and kidnapping in relation to the death of Ms Everard – a case which has provoked an outpouring of anger over the safety of women in Britain.

A woman in her 30s who was held on suspicion of assisting an offender has been released on bail. She must report to a police station in mid-April.

Ms Everard's family have been informed and are being looked after by specialist officers.

The investigation is being led by specialist detectives with the support of hundreds of officers from the Met and Kent Police.

The Met released a statement with further details of Mr Couzens's employment within the force, citing the need for "clarity about these exceptional events".

It said he joined the service in September 2018 and was posted to a response team in Bromley, south-east London.

He was then transferred to the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command in February 2020 "where his primary role was on uniformed patrol duties of diplomatic premises, mainly a range of embassies".

The announcement that Mr Couzens has been charged comes after a court ruling late on Friday upholding a police ban on attempts to organise a vigil in Clapham Common, the area of south London where Ms Everard was last seen walking home from a visit to a friend.

The Metropolitan Police revoked permission for it to go ahead because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Whether the ban will be heeded, remains to be seen.

Former criminal barrister and politician Anna Soubry has urged the government to take the lead on reform, including an overhaul of the criminal justice system.

“It's raised this issue that so many women of all ages, especially younger women, that they can't live the same lives as their male friends.

"And that is not right. And it's been like this for far too long, arguably forever. And it's got to change," Ms Soubry told The National.