Police failures exposed by Sarah Everard murder underpin culture of misogyny in the force, activists say

Police officers form a cordon around the Clapham Common bandstand in south London on March 13, 2021, where people had gathered for the Sarah Everard vigil.

(CNN)When thousands gathered to mourn the death of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old woman who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in March, London police responded with force.

Scenes of grieving women being pinned to the ground and brutalized by Metropolitan Police officers shocked people across the United Kingdom. Everard was just walking home when she was snatched from the street -- to the mourners it felt like it could have happened to them. They had gathered to "Reclaim These Streets," as the group that organized the vigil is called, and to honor a lost sister. But London's police called the event an illegal gathering and handcuffed some participants, citing Covid regulations.
Prosecutors would later say Covid-19 rules were used by one of their own officers to detain and then kidnap Everard.
    On the night of March 3, Wayne Couzens, a serving Met police officer, spent the entire evening "hunting a lone female to kidnap and rape," according to the judge that sentenced him on Thursday. Couzens stopped Everard on the street by identifying himself as police, "arresting" her under the pretense of breaking Covid rules. He raped her later that evening and strangled her with his police belt. A week later, her remains were found in a woodland in Ashford, Kent -- more than 50 miles from where she was last seen.
      Everard is not the first woman to be killed by a British policeman. And campaigners fear she won't be the last.
      At least 16 women have been killed by serving or retired police officers over the last 13 years in the UK, according to the Femicide Census, a group that collects data on women killed by men, and campaigners feel that tackling gender-based violence is not a police priority.
      There are hundreds of allegations of gender-based violence by police officers every year. Nearly 700 domestic abuse allegations were launched against police officers and staff from April 2015-2017, according to a 2019 Bureau of Investigative Journalism investigation. It also found that domestic abuse at the hands of the police are treated differently in court, with just 3.9% of domestic abuse allegations among police in England and Wales ending in a conviction, compared with 6.2% among the general population.
        As fatal intimate partner violence is typically the culmination of years of abuse and coercive control, there is an urgent need to reform the criminal justice system, activists say. And that needs to start from the ground up.
        A woman attending the Sarah Everard vigil in south London on March 13, 2021 is arrested by police.
        Harriet Wistrich, solicitor and director of the Centre for Women's Justice (CWJ), told CNN that there is a "kind of boys' locker room type culture within policing, which means that often, officers are loyal to their fellow colleagues over and above undertaking proper investigations -- and that women are fearful of reporting to the police. And if they do, sometimes they're the ones that are victimized."
        The CWJ filed a "super complaint" to the UK police watchdog in 2019, highlighting the difficulties that around 150 dome