Police forces ignored sexual harassment allegations against Sarah Everard’s killer

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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.

Wistrich said:

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.

Read on...

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Sarah Everard death
Wayne Couzens (Met Police)

Failures

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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  • Show Comments
    1. From yesterday’s Guardian:

      “Almost 700 cases of alleged domestic abuse involving police officers and staff were reported during the three years to April 2018, according to freedom of information requests made by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. The data, from three-quarters of forces, showed that police employees accused of domestic abuse were a third less likely to be convicted than the general public and less than a quarter of complaints resulted in disciplinary action.”

      That shows what the English police service’s true attitude to domestic abuse is. If they side with their officers domestic abuse means nothing to them.

      The failure here was originally down to Kent Police. Kent Police’s Professional Standards Department and its Office of Police and Crime Commissioner are both corrupt as I’ve seen for myself during two complaints procedures four years apart. You are mistaken if you really believe that the IOPC has ‘launched’ an ‘investigation’. If anything comes of the pretence of one it’s because of the public eye being on this. This officer is already found out and it will be no problem for the IOPC to produce, all too late, some insulting fake document that leaves Kent Police and the Met’s reputations intact, or in no less a shabby state than they are to many of us. Having seen the borderline illiterate performance of Professional Standards at Kent Police and having tried to get female staff to force a proper review of my relatively banal situation or to become whistleblowers I’ve seen first hand how fatal negligence can come about.

      Please stop portraying the IOPC as if it is a watchdog. It is an admin body that coordinates cover-ups of wrongdoing within police forces, nothing more than that. Police forces investigate themselves, negligently and dishonestly, in most cases find no fault and then the IOPC are done with you and the sense of impunity within the policing is strengthened. The dramatic stories happen because no one does anything when the conditions for those are building up.

      1. Well said sir.
        There are a disproportionate number of Paedo’s, sex pests and bullies in the Police, it attracts them because they know they are unaccountable for their controlling and frankly psychopathic tendencies. As long as they protect the establishment from the people they will continue to be a flame for weirdo’s and wrong uns.

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