Scotland Yard is to be investigated over its handling of an allegation of indecent exposure against the officer suspected of murdering Sarah Everard.
The police watchdog will consider if Metropolitan Police officers “responded appropriately” to the alleged incident. Ms Everard, 33, was last seen in Clapham, south London, on 3 March. The case has prompted an outpouring of shock and anger as women across the country share their own experiences of feeling unsafe.
Organisers of a “Reclaim These Streets” vigil planned for Saturday evening on Clapham Common claim the police say it cannot go ahead because of pandemic lockdown restrictions, and are preparing to go to the High Court.
On Thursday, Ms Everard’s family paid tribute to her, saying she “brought so much joy to our lives” and was a “shining example to us all”.
Police looking for the missing marketing executive said human remains had been found in woodland in Kent on Wednesday, but detectives have not yet confirmed their identity. The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it had launched an investigation after receiving five referrals from the Met Police in relation to its handling of the case. The watchdog says it will examine how officers responded after receiving a report that a man had exposed himself at a fast food restaurant in south London on 28 February – three days before Ms Everard’s disappearance.
The other referrals to the IOPC were over the arrest of a serving officer on suspicion both of kidnap and murder, the Met’s actions after Ms Everard was reported missing, and the injury of the suspect while in custody. The arrested man, who is in his 40s and works with the Met’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, was taken to hospital on Thursday suffering from head injuries. He was treated, discharged and returned to the police station where he is being held after an application to extend his detention was granted at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court. The Met later said he had sustained the injury while alone in his cell and received immediate first aid.
Ms Everard was last seen on 3 March walking alone down a main road in Clapham at 21:30 GMT, with police saying it was unclear whether she reached her home in Brixton. The former Durham University student, who is originally from York, was wearing a green rain jacket, navy blue trousers with a white diamond pattern, and turquoise and orange trainers when she went missing.
In a statement, her family appealed for more information to “help solve this terrible crime”. “Sarah was bright and beautiful – a wonderful daughter and sister. She was kind and thoughtful, caring and dependable. She always put others first and had the most amazing sense of humour,” they said. “She was strong and principled and a shining example to us all. We are very proud of her and she brought so much joy to our lives.”
A woman in her 30s, who was arrested in Kent on suspicion of assisting an offender, has been released on bail until mid-April.