This useful advice on what women should do if stopped by a policeman is going viral

In the wake of Sarah Everard's murder, women have been left scared of the very people who are supposed to protect us.

policeman with handcuffs
Sarah Everard: Women advised on how to act if stopped by a policeman
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the wake of Sarah Everard's murder, women have been left scared of the very people who are supposed to protect us.

Yesterday, 48-year-old Wayne Couzens was handed a whole-life sentence for the brutal kidnap, rape and murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard. It emerged in court this week that Couzens, who was a serving officer in the Metropolitan Police - but wasn't on duty - at the time of the killing, staged a fake arrest as a means of luring Sarah into his car.

After having driven around for hours looking for a lone woman as his victim, Wayne Couzens pulled over and stopped Sarah Everard under the false pretence of enforcing COVID lockdown rules. After showing her his warrant card, Couzens went on to handcuff the young woman, before putting her in his car and driving her to Kent, where the unthinkable happened.

Sarah Everard

The horror of this gross abuse of power has shaken the whole nation, and has led many women to feel unsafe around police officers - the very people who are supposed to be there to protect us. Putting themselves in Sarah's position, many are now vocally wondering how they could tell whether a police officer stopping you is legitimate - yet another consideration women now have to make to ensure their safety.

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In response to such questions, Making Herstory - an organisation that campaigns against all forms of abuse directly impacting women and girls, has published some advice on what women should do if they're approached by a lone, male police officer. The information has proven so valuable, it's going viral.

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The guidance advises six invaluable steps for women to take in the event they are stopped for questioning or arrest by a police officer on their own:

  1. Resist arrest calmly and refuse handcuffs.
  2. Ask for a female officer/two other male officers to be called for. Should this request be denied, call 999 to submit the request for yourself.
  3. Do not enter any vehicle until additional officers arrive.
  4. If no additional officers are available, request the arresting officer to walk with you in public to the nearest police station.
  5. If signalled to whilst driving by a lone officer, drive on to nearest police station or a busy public area.
  6. Call family to let them know what is happening and where you are.

It's devastating that we live in a world where a person who is supposed to enforce and uphold the law could be the one to break it so inhumanely. But we do. And while the onus should always, always be on men not to attack women, as opposed to women having to protect themselves from men, resources like this can be useful in helping us to feel less fearful when out by ourselves.

Catriona Harvey-Jenner

Cat is a Senior Editor at Marie Claire, covering news and features across the brand's key purpose pillars, including women's issues, politics, career, mental health, female empowerment and equality, as well as books.