The Metropolitan Police force is under pressure to investigate how Sarah Everard’s killer was able to continue serving as an officer despite several sexual harassment allegations.
Serving constable Wayne Couzens had been accused of indecent exposure three times before he abducted Everard in Clapham, south London, on 3 March.
He pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to the murder of the 33-year-old marketing executive on Friday 9 July. He had previously admitted to her kidnap and rape.
‘Epidemic of male violence’
Harriet Wistrich is director of the Centre for Women’s Justice. She’s among those calling for a full public inquiry into “police failures and misconduct and the wider culture of misogyny” following Couzens’ guilty plea.
Everard’s murder sparked protests by women fearing for their own safety earlier in 2021.
As protesters made clear, women do not feel safe and it is incumbent on the Government and all criminal justice agencies to now take action over the epidemic of male violence which is the other public health crisis of our day.
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Nick Thomas Symonds, the shadow home secretary, has also urged police to review their vetting process.
The Labour MP said:
Society puts huge trust in the police to keep us safe…
It is absolutely vital that everything possible is done to ensure this can never happen again.
The Metropolitan Police and wider policing must look at vetting processes and their own safeguarding systems to ensure people who pose a threat to the public are not able to hold such vital positions of trust.
An indecent exposure allegation against Couzens dates back to 2015. The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has launched an investigation into alleged failures by Kent Police to investigate the allegation.
An IOPC probe is also ongoing into alleged failures by the Met police. That’s in relation to allegations of indecent exposure linked to Couzens in London in February 2021. Two officers are under investigation for possible breaches of professional standards.
The watchdog said a total of 12 gross misconduct or misconduct notices have so far been served on police officers from several forces relating to the Couzens case.
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