CALLS have been made to harness the “frustration, horror and anger” over the Sarah Everard case in order to change attitudes in Scotland and prevent more women being murdered.

Describing violence against ­women as an “epidemic in Scotland, and around the world”, Alys Mumford of Engender said Police Scotland and other institutions needed to use the reaction “to carefully examine how they engage with issues of power and violence, and place women’s equality and safety at the heart of what they do”.

She said the “horrific” details that had emerged as former Met Police ­officer Wayne Couzens was last week sentenced to life in prison for Sarah Everard’s murder had led to more “advice” to women about how to stay safe.

“The only thing that make women safe is to end the misogyny which is prevalent across society,” said ­Mumford. “From physical attacks and sexual violence, through to ­offensive jokes and cat-calling, women are ­consistently told that our world is not our own.

READ MORE: Police Scotland launch officer verification checks in wake of Sarah Everard murder

“Our freedom to socialise, exercise or simply exist in certain places and at certain times is curtailed by the threat of men’s violence, and women – particularly women of colour, queer women, disabled women and migrant women – know that the police do not exist to challenge this threat.

“Police Scotland and other ­institutions across Scotland need to use the reactions to this week’s news to carefully examine how they engage with issues of power and violence, and place women’s equality and ­safety at the heart of what they do.”

Sandy Brindley (below), of Rape Crisis Scotland said it would be more ­helpful to focus on perpetrators and how they could be stopped rather than issue advice to women on staying safe.


“It is a really heartbreaking and ­enraging case and the more details that emerge the more chilling it is,” said Brindley. “What it points to is the need for a complete change in a culture that tolerates predatory ­behaviour towards women. We are all responsible for changing the ­culture that we have in Scotland and I think men have a part to play and institutions like the police have a part to play.”

She said that while she was ­“incredulous” at some of the ­“advice” issued by the Met in the wake of the case – which appeared to ­suggest women should call the ­police if they felt threatened by the police – ­violence against women was a ­problem for the whole of society.

“It is not only an issue for the ­police because we know of so many workplaces where someone’s ­behaviour towards women is well known but they are able to keep doing their jobs – and that is the culture that needs to change. There needs to be accountability,” she said.

Brindley claimed the justice system in Scotland was also failing to be an effective deterrent.

“Rape has the lowest conviction rate of any crime type and as long as guilty men regularly walk free from our justice system there are ­serious and grave questions about how ­effective a deterrent there is in ­Scotland,” she said.

“We need a total overhaul of our justice response so that when women report a crime they have confidence they will be taken seriously and will have a reasonable prospect of justice, whether it is something like flashing or whether it is rape.”

Brindley added: “I don’t think it is helpful to be giving safety advice to women. It is much more helpful if there is a focus on perpetrators and how we can stop them committing these crimes. That is about ­prevention but it is also about an effective justice response.

“We need accountability within the police as it is about making sure there is a sustained effort to rebuild trust and confidence.”

DEPUTY Chief Constable, Fiona Taylor, said: “Women should never be scared or reluctant to report any crime to us and can be assured that we will listen, support and carry out a robust and impartial investigation.

“Our officers work with ­absolute professionalism to protect the ­vulnerable and keep people safe in line with our core values of ­integrity, fairness and respect and a ­commitment to upholding human rights. Our values-based approach, which reflects and represents our communities, is vital to the public confidence and ­consent from which policing draws its ­legitimacy.

“The appalling circumstances of Sarah Everard’s death have deeply affected people and many are now rightly concerned about verifying an officer’s identity.”

In response, Police Scotland is to introduce a simple officer verification process to provide reassurance to any member of the public who may be concerned about whether or not they are being spoken to by a genuine ­police officer working alone.

On duty officers operating on their own will now proactively ­offer to ­carry out a verification check for ­anyone they come across who appears to be concerned for their safety. A member of the public can also request that a verification check be done.

The new process, introduced ­yesterday, will allow for the ­officer’s personal radio to be put on loudspeaker and for an officer or member of police staff in a Police Scotland Control Room to confirm that the officer is who they say they are, that they are on duty and the reason the officer is speaking to the member of the public.