Home Estate Planning Met Police missed multiple opportunities to stop Sarah Everard’s killer, review finds

Met Police missed multiple opportunities to stop Sarah Everard’s killer, review finds

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The Met Police missed multiple opportunities to stop Sarah Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens – who should never have been a police officer – a damning new report into the force’s failings has found.

Policing and vetting needs a “significant overhaul”, without which “there is nothing to stop another Couzens operating in plain sight,” Dame Elish Angiolini said in her independent review.

The grim document on the first part of a Home Office commissioned inquiry, published today, revealed the killer police officer “allegedly committed a very serious sexual assault against a child (barely in her teens) before his policing career even started”.

Speaking to reporters, Angiolini said: “Failures in recruitment and vetting meant Couzens was able to continue a policing career which should have been denied to him.

Red flags were repeatedly ignored meaning he was granted the privilege of serving in three separate police forces, including as an authorised firearms officer.”

She added: “The Inquiry is aware of five other alleged incidents of sexual offending involving Couzens which, for many understandable reasons, were never reported to the police. Given the known under-reporting of sexual offences, I believe there may be even more victims of Couzens’ offending.”

The report calls for a radical overhaul of police vetting and recruitment and Angiolini states: “Now is the time for change.”

She urges “all those in authority in every police force in the country to read this report and take immediate action”.

The former armed Metropolitan Police officer, 51, will never be released from prison after he abducted, raped and murdered marketing executive Sarah Everard in March 2021.

Couzens used his status as a police officer to trick Everard into thinking he could arrest her for breaking lockdown rules in place at the time.

Following the harrowing crime, which sparked public protests over concerns for women’s safety, it emerged Couzens had been reportedly nicknamed “the rapist” while an officer.

He was also later revealed to have been part of a Whatsapp group with fellow officers that shared disturbing racist, homophobic and misogynist remarks.

Couzens joined Kent Police as a special constable in 2002, became an officer with the Civil Nuclear constabulary in 2011 and then moved to the Met in 2018.

He indecently exposed himself three times before the murder, including twice at a drive-through fast food restaurant in Kent in the days before the killing. But he was not caught despite driving his own car and using his own credit card at the time.

Then-Met Police constable Samantha Lee was sacked and barred from being a police officer after it was found she had not properly investigated the incidents.

Home secretary James Cleverly said: “The act of pure evil committed against Sarah shocked the nation to its core.

“The man who committed these crimes is not a reflection on the majority of dedicated police officers working day in, day out to help people. But Sarah was failed in more ways than one by the people who were meant to keep her safe, and it laid bare wider issues in policing and society that need to be urgently fixed.

“In the three years since, a root and stem clean-up of the policing workforce has been underway and we have made huge strides. But we will continue to do everything in our power to protect women and girls.”

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