Sarah Everard disappearance: Police officer arrested ‘not on duty’ when she went missing in Clapham

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A Metropolitan Police officer arrested in connection with the disappearance of Sarah Everard was “not on duty” when she went missing.

Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave described the arrest in Kent as a “serious and significant” development in the search for the 33-year-old, last seen in south London a week ago.

The force has not revealed what the officer was arrested for, and Mr Ephgrave would not say whether the person knows Ms Everard.

Sky News understands that a police search is taking place in woods near Ashford, Kent, but it has not been confirmed if this is linked to the case.

A home in Deal is also reportedly being searched and a car was seen being taken away from the property. A neighbour told the Press Association police were digging up the garden.

Speaking to reporters outside Scotland Yard on Wednesday, a week on since Ms Everard was last seen or heard from, he said: “Our inquiries suggest that this officer was not on duty at the time of Sarah’s disappearance.”

Asked if he believed she might still be alive, the officer replied: “We are searching as hard as we can to find Sarah so we really hope that is the case, of course.”

He said the fact a serving police officer had been detained was both “shocking and deeply disturbing”, and the force was working at “speed” to find Ms Everard.

Turning to Ms Everard’s family, who along with her friends have issued desperate pleas for help via social media, he said: “As a father myself of four young women I can only imagine the anguish that Sarah’s family are feeling at this very, very difficult time.”

Scotland Yard too appealed again for the public’s help, with Mr Ephgrave saying “every piece of information is important to us”.

An extensive search involving police, relatives and volunteers has been under way to find the marketing executive who disappeared after leaving a friend’s house in Clapham, southwest London, at about 9pm last Wednesday (3 March).

Ms Everard went missing while walking to her home in nearby Brixton – a journey that was expected to take her around 50 minutes. She has not been seen or heard from since.

She is described as 5ft 4in (162cm) tall with a slim build and blonde hair.

Ms Everard was wearing a green rain jacket, navy blue trousers with a white diamond pattern, and turquoise and orange trainers – and is thought to have been wearing green earphones and a white beanie hat too.

Her family described her disappearance as being “totally out of character” and said her phone was not ringing and WhatsApp messages were not getting through.

She is described as 5ft 4in (162cm) tall with a slim build and blonde hair.

Ms Everard was wearing a green rain jacket, navy blue trousers with a white diamond pattern, and turquoise and orange trainers – and is thought to have been wearing green earphones and a white beanie hat too.

Her family described her disappearance as being “totally out of character” and said her phone was not ringing and WhatsApp messages were not getting through.

Last night, a serving Metropolitan Police officer was arrested at an address in Kent in connection with her disappearance.

A woman was arrested at the same address on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Both remain in custody at a London police station.

On Tuesday two new photographs of Ms Everard were released by police.

One of the new images showed her wearing the same coat as on the night she went missing.

The other, a CCTV still taken from a doorbell camera, showed Ms Everard walking along the A205 Poynders Road at about 9.30pm.

The footage captured her walking alone from the junction at Cavendish Road, toward Tulse Hill, which lies south of Brixton.

The image appears to suggest she walked through Clapham Common and was heading towards her home, although police have said it is unclear if she made it there.

As well as searches, police have also been making house-to-house enquiries in the Clapham and Brixton areas.

A cordon was put in place on the A205, near the Poynders Court housing complex in the Clapham area, with forensics officers seen examining the area.

A resident told Sky News: “It was quite weird, me and my partner went out for a walk in the morning so we saw them dredging out the drains, we didn’t even realise it was the police at the time.”

They added: “Van after van was pulling up. They were checking the grass, they were here all night. They were on their hands and knees patting down the road at one point, they had sniffer dogs out.”

The Met said it has received more than 120 calls from the public and has visited 750 homes in the area as part of the investigation.

Anyone who has seen Ms Everard or who has information that may assist the investigation should call the Incident Room on 0208 785 8244