A women’s safety app has surged to the top of the download charts in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder.

WalkSafe has attracted more than 300,000 downloads within a week, becoming the number one free app on Apple’s iOS and entering the top 10 on Android.

The tool only had about two thousand downloads before Ms Everard’s disappearance and the ensuing debate about gender violence, co-founder Emma Kay told the PA news agency.

Her own experiences of harassment inspired her to back the project, though “it shouldn’t have to exist”.

“It was something that I definitely felt very strongly about,” she told PA.

“There have been instances in the past of myself, dating back from a young age – I’m talking schoolgirl age – where you felt nervous, you’ve been scared.

“I’ve been followed, I’ve had someone, a stranger in the street put his hand up my skirt, I’ve been in those sorts of situations and it does start young.”

The idea came about from Ms Kay’s brother-in-law who spearheaded development of the technology, which includes a map of reported incidents nearby that make users aware of potential danger zones.

Emma Kay, co-founder of the SafeWalk app
Emma Kay, co-founder of the SafeWalk app (Emma Kay/PA)

Another feature allows people to tap the app every so often while they walk home, sending an alert to a loved one if they do not tap within the set time.

Users can also check in with others and let the app send an automatic notification to friends when they have reached their destination.

Ms Kay – a mother of one who is expecting her second child – told PA the feedback has been positive and “rewarding”, with requests from people in the Netherlands and the US to expand support internationally.

“Our ultimate goal was, even if it saves one person from a difficult situation then it will all be worth it and that’s really what drives us,” she said.

Serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, is accused of kidnapping and murdering 33-year-old Ms Everard, as she walked home from a friend’s flat in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.

He is due to go on trial in the autumn.