Sarah Everard: inquiry into Wayne Couzens’ Met Police career announced - what will the inquiry look at?

The first part of the independent Angiolini Inquiry into Sarah Everard’s death will start “soon”

<p>Ms Everard lived in Brixton and had recently started a new job as a marketing executive when she was killed (image: PA)</p>

Ms Everard lived in Brixton and had recently started a new job as a marketing executive when she was killed (image: PA)

An inquiry looking into how a serving Metropolitan Police officer was able to abduct, rape and murder Sarah Everard will get underway soon.

It comes as Home Secretary Priti Patel has published the terms of reference for the first phase of the investigation on Monday (10 January) - which will be known as Angiolini Inquiry.

Part one of the probe will also look at whether any “red flags were missed” earlier in Wayne Couzens’ career.

The findings from the first part of the inquiry will inform the second – which will look at “broader issues” arising for policing and the protection of women.

So when will the inquiry start - and what will the investigation look at?

Home Secretary, Priti Patel has published the terms of reference for the first phase of the Angiolini Inquiry (image: Matt Dunham - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Where did the inquiry get its name and when will it begin?

The Angiolini Inquiry is named after Dame Elish Angiolini QC - who is leading it.

The first part of the inquiry will start “soon” and is intended to conclude this year to make sure the “family get the answers they need”, the Home Office said.

It will consider the “systemic failures” that allowed Ms Everard’s killer to be employed as a police officer.

Wayne Couzens, who was sentenced in September 2021, is now serving a whole-life order in prison, meaning he will never be released.

The Met Police officer raped and strangled Ms Everard, 33, on 3 March, 2021, after snatching her under the guise of a fake arrest for breaking lockdown rules.

The first part of the inquiry will look at a timeline of Couzens’ career and “prior allegations of criminal behaviour and/or misconduct” (image: NationalWorld)

What will the inquiry aim to find?

  • A timeline of Couzens’ career and “relevant incidents” including “prior allegations of criminal behaviour and/or misconduct”.
  • The circumstances and decision making surrounding his vetting and re-vetting, including whether “any potential risks and/or red flags were missed” as well as any matters arising from his transfer between forces.
  • His overall conduct, performance, training and any abuse of his police powers.
  • The extent to which any issues about his behaviour, particularly in relation to women, were “known and raised by colleagues” including professional standards departments and senior leaders.

The inquiry will analyse documents from the Metropolitan Police, Civil Nuclear Constabulary and Kent Police as well as consider interviews, witness statements and findings from Independent Office for Police Conduct investigations.

What has Priti Patel said?

Ms Patel said the Angiolini Inquiry is vital and will produce “learning and recommendations” for policing.

She said: “I am determined to understand the failings that enabled a serving officer to commit such heinous crimes – we owe an explanation to Sarah’s family and loved ones, and we need to do all in our power to prevent something like this from ever happening again.

“I have assured Dame Elish she has my full support to ensure this inquiry gets the answers the public and the Everard family need as soon as possible.”

Dame Elish, a former lord advocate of Scotland, described the publication of the terms of reference as a “significant step forward to progressing this vital inquiry and ensuring Sarah’s family and the wider public get a full understanding and explanation of the causes of, and factors contributing to, this tragic and harrowing murder.”

Although a non-statutory inquiry has been established, this can be converted to a statutory inquiry, where witnesses can be compelled to give evidence, if required.

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