Sarah Everard: Priti Patel announces independent inquiry into Wayne Couzens and police ‘systematic failures’

Priti Patel said the public needs answers to ensure “something like this can never happen again”

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An independent inquiry will be launched into the “systematic failures” that allowed Sarah Everard’s killer to be employed as a police officer.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, Priti Patel said the public needs answers to ensure “something like this can never happen again”.

Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens kidnapped, raped and murdered the 33-year-old marketing executive.

At a glance: 5 key points

  • The Home Office said the inquiry will be made up of two parts – first examining Couzens’ previous behaviour and establishing a “definitive account of his conduct leading up to his conviction, as well as any opportunities missed, drawing on the Independent Office for Police Conduct’s (IOPC) investigations, once concluded.”
  • The second will look at any specific problems raised by the first part of the inquiry, which could include wider issues across policing – such as vetting practices, professional standards and discipline, and workplace behaviour.
  • Labour’s Yvette Cooper, the chairwoman of the Commons Home Affairs committee, said the inquiry was “very welcome” and it was “important that it looks more widely at handling of allegations of violence against women and girls by police officers and staff. Real concerns that these are not dealt with properly – vital that they are in order to ensure women’s safety and rebuild trust.”
  • Ms Patel will also commission another inspection of vetting and anti-corruption procedures in policing in England and Wales to be carried out by the watchdog Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
  • This will also look at how forces detect and deal with “misogynistic and predatory behaviour”. Initial findings are expected by the end of this year in order to inform the inquiry.

What’s been said

Ms Patel said: “The public have a right to know what systematic failures enabled his continued employment as a police officer.

“We need answers as to why this was allowed to happen.

“I can confirm today there will be an inquiry, to give the independent oversight needed, to ensure something like this can never happen again.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said the inquiry must leave “no stone unturned” and must “also address reports of widespread cultural issues”, adding: “We must stamp out misogyny, sexism, racism and homophobia, root out those who abuse their trusted position as officers, and ensure that tackling violence against women and girls is treated with the highest priority.”

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