Sarah Everard’s killer has been sentenced to life in prison, but the system that enabled him remains in place

The feminist group of Undressed Sisters protest outside the Central Criminal Court where the sentencing hearing for Wayne Cousins ​​will take place in London on September 29, 2021.

Photo: Chris J. Ratcliffe/Getty Images

In the evening On March 3, Metropolitan Police Officer Wayne Cousins ​​approached a young woman walking alone to her home on a south London street. We can’t know exactly what Cousins ​​said to 33-year-old Sarah Everard; She did not survive her encounter with the policeman. We know, from CCTV footage, that Cousins ​​showed her his police order card and they handcuffed her. he is Believes For using the enforcement of the Covid-19 lockdown as a basis for her arrest – he worked on lockdown patrols and knew those restrictions would give him some cover. Everard did not resist. Witnesses did not intervene and there were witnesses. It was, after all, an arrest.

This is how Cousins, 48, used the absolute power granted to him as a police officer to kidnap Everard, drive her away, rape, torture, and kill her. Everard’s death sparked a major – and highly ambiguous – national conversation about “women’s safety,” as the danger posed by the police was Remained largely a footnote, even if the offender is identified as a police officer, arrested and charged. The police once again used the epidemic lockdown rules to deal with and assault attendees in the Everard crowd vigilance later that month.

Hateful details revealed this week in court revealed just how important Couzens’ role as a police officer was in enabling him to carry out his corrupt schemes. On Thursday, a judge sentenced Cousins ​​to life in prison with no chance of parole – a “lifetime” order, as it’s known in the UK. There are approximately 80,000 people imprisoned in the prisons of England and Wales; Only 60 of them are life prisoners.

There have been predictable efforts by the Metropolitan Police and the British government to categorize the Cousins, 48, as the most spoiled of all rotten apples, and the specific horror of their well-planned brutality should not be underestimated. However, the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Everard are seen as extreme conclusions, not aberrations, of the inherent violence of the unquestioned power bestowed on the police establishment. at least 15 Women in the UK have been murdered by current or former police officers since 2009, and on average one woman a week Apply to report a police officer who engages in domestic or sexual violence.

“Sarah was not a criminal, yet Cousins ​​managed to stalk her, handcuff her, and kidnap her in public without arousing any suspicion.” books Sisters Uncut, a UK-based direct action feminist group that advocates for domestic violence survivors and runs trainings on how to intervene in police stops and searches. “Sarah’s case, while horrific, is not an isolated case.”

In 2019, a “super complaint” was made against More than a dozen British police forces, citing 700 alleged cases of domestic violence committed by police officers, have faced severe consequences. The cozine had the same Sexual offense accusations It dates back to 2015, and some of his police colleagues called him “the rapist.” Upon sentencing, the judge was particularly dissatisfied with the fact that Cousins ​​had used his position as a police officer to carry out premeditated crimes.

“Abuse of the role of a police officer as happened in this case in order to kidnap, rape and kill a single victim is equivalent to the gravity of the crime of murder for the purpose of promoting a political, religious or ideological cause,” Lord Justice Adrian Fulford told the court.

His comparison was appropriate, if inadvertently. By using his position as a police officer to kidnap, rape, and murder, Cousins ​​was promoting the exact ideologies of power, patriarchal violence, and deprivation of liberty that had always been the foundation of the police establishment. The first It was the British National Police established In the early nineteenth century to Curb Anti-colonial uprisings in Ireland. As in the United States, the history of policing in the United Kingdom is one of unbearable white supremacy and patriarchal oppression.

Despite the great danger of giving law enforcement officers unsupervised powers, as Cousins ​​grimly demonstrated, the British government is trying to give police even Bigger power To stop, detain and arrest individuals, including for the alleged offenses of “noise and vandalism.” The Police, Crime, Sentences and Courts Bill, which the government is trying to enforce through Parliament, is a direct assault on freedom of expression and protest in the UK. The leadership, trying to use the fact of Everard’s death, appeals to “women’s safety”, to give the police more power.

A number of Labor politicians have called on the current Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, to step down in light of the Cousins ​​case. “Women’s trust in the police will be shattered,” Labor MP Harriet Harman books In a statement, he demanded the resignation of the commissioner. “Women should be able to trust the police, not fear them,” she added, before proposing a number of police reforms related to background checks, screening, suspension and dismissal when it comes to enacting and enabling violence against women. It is the kind of necessary but largely inadequate policy that has repeatedly failed to fix Basically irreparable Institute.

Proposals such as Harman’s might acknowledge the fact that the police force as a whole bears some responsibility for Everard’s murder, in allowing a man like Cousins ​​to “sneak through the net”, like Labor leader Keir Starmer. put it. We must reject such framing. Dozens did not infiltrate the police network. The nature of his violence runs through its fibres.

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