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'Lord have mercy': Justin Welby calls for prayer following Sarah Everard disappearance

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The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has called for prayer for the family and friends of a missing woman after police announced that human remains had been discovered in Kent.

Sarah Everard, 33, vanished as she walked home from a friend's house in Clapham on 3rd March. 

On Tuesday, a serving Metropolitan Police officer was arrested and subsequently charged on suspicion of kidnap and murder. On Wednesday evening, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick announced that human remains had been discovered during a police search near Ashford, Kent. Formal identification is not yet confirmed. 

The situation has sent shockwaves through the Met Police and the wider London community, with many women expressing their unease about walking alone at night. 

On Thursday, Justin Welby tweeted that he was "praying to the family and friends of Sarah Everard".

"Lord have mercy," he added. "Let us cry out to God in anger and lament, and let us pray and work relentlessly for a society where women feel safe." 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was "shocked and deeply saddened by the developments in the Sarah Everard investigation".

"Like the whole country, my thoughts are with her family and friends. We must work fast to find all the answers to this horrifying crime," he added. 

Home Secretary Priti Patel addressed the issue of women feeling unsafe while walking in London:

"Many women have shared their stories and concerns online since Sarah's disappearance last week. 

"These are so powerful because each and every woman can relate. Every woman should feel safe to walk on our streets without fear of harassment or violence.

"At this deeply sad and tragic time as we think and pray for Sarah and her family, I will continue through my role to do all I can to protect women and girls from violence and harassment." 

Announcing the discovery of remains, Dame Cressida added: 

"Sarah's disappearance in these awful and wicked circumstances is every family's worst nightmare.

"I know Londoners will want to know that it is thankfully incredibly rare for a woman to be abducted from our streets.

"But I completely understand that despite this, women in London and the wider public - particularly those in the area where Sarah went missing - will be worried and may well be feeling scared."

She noted that the Met was "utterly appalled" that one of its officers had been arrested on suspicion of Sarah's murder. "Our job is to patrol the streets and to protect people," she said. 

The leader of the Labour party, Sir Keir Starmer added: "My thoughts are with Sarah Everard’s family this evening and with all those shaken by this awful news. Women should be able to walk home without fear or threat." 

Holy Trinity Clapham, which is on the Common she is thought to have walked through, announced on social media that it would be holding a "time of personal prayer and reflection" for Sarah at 1pm on Friday. "Please do join us if you are in the area - we would love you to join us as we pray," the church wrote.

 

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