Dame Elish Angiolini (left) is leading the first part of a non-statutory inquiry while Baroness Casey (centre) conducts The Met Police review of the culture and standards at the force (image: Kim Mogg/NationalWorld)
Sarah Everard’s murder has sparked an independent review into the Metropolitan Police’s “standards and culture” - and a separate non-statutory inquiry will probe whether opportunities to stop Wayne Couzens were missed.
Couzens, who was a serving Met Police officer, kidnapped and murdered Sarah Everard after accusing her of breaking Covid-19 lockdown rules in a “false arrest”.
The 48-year-old used his handcuffs and warrant card to snatch Ms Everard as she walked home from visiting a friend in Clapham, south London, on the evening of 3 March last year.
The sexual predator went on to rape and strangle the 33-year-old marketing executive.
In June 2021, Couzens pleaded guilty to the kidnap and rape of Ms Everard and in July 2021 pleaded guilty to her murder.
In September, he was given a whole life order - meaning he will never be released from prison.
Now, Baroness Louise Casey of Blackstock is leading a review into culture and standards in the Met Police in the wake of her murder while Dame Elish Angiolini’s independent inquiry will investigate whether any red flags were missed in Couzens’ policing career.
So, when will the details of the probes be published - and what are the investigations looking into?
Who is Dame Elish Angiolini - and what’s her role?
Dame Elish has been picked by Home Secretary Priti Patel to lead the independent inquiry into Ms Everard’s death.
The former lord advocate of Scotland agreed to take up the position to chair the two-part inquiry which got underway on 31 January, 2022.
Confirming her appointment, Ms Patel said: “Dame Elish is an exceptionally distinguished lawyer, academic and public servant.
“Her extensive experience includes a review of deaths in police custody, as well as a review for the Scottish Government on the handling of complaints and alleged misconduct against police officers.”
Dame Elish said: “I am deeply honoured to have been asked to chair this vital inquiry, which comes at a pivotal moment for policing.
“The murder of Sarah Everard was profoundly shocking and I will ensure that the issues raised from this dreadful tragedy are fully investigated and the necessary lessons learned.”
What’s the Angiolini inquiry looking into?
The inquiry aims to look at how serving Metropolitan Police officer, Couzens, was able to abduct, rape and murder Ms Everard.
The first part of the inquiry will establish a comprehensive account of Couzens’ conduct throughout his career in policing, including looking for whether any red flags were missed.
Specifically, it will look at his behaviour towards women in the force, allegations of misconduct and criminal behaviour, decision making around vetting and how he was able to work for three different forces - including Kent police, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and the Met.
It will draw on ongoing investigations by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
The second part of the inquiry will look at specific issues raised by part one, which will report to the Home Secretary as soon as possible.
Ms Patel, who branded Couzens a “monster”, said the inquiry will proceed on a non-statutory basis in a bid to give Ms Everard’s family “closure as quickly as possible”.
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 by Dame Elish.
Non-statutory inquiries are still commissioned by government ministers but do not take place under the authority of an Act of Parliament.
They cannot compel witnesses to give evidence under oath, meaning there is greater risk that uncooperative witnesses will impede a non-statutory inquiry’s progress.
The aim is that the inquiry should make recommendations to Ms Patel for any immediate steps that need to be taken in policing between six and nine months from January 31.
Who is Baroness Louise Casey of Blackstock?
Baroness Casey is a crossbench peer in the House of Lords as well as an independent advisor on social welfare and former government official.
She is leading a seperate inquiry into the Met Police in the wake of Ms Everard’s murder - which the Met Police commissioned.
She said: “Trust is given to the police by our, the public’s, consent. So any acts that undermine that trust must be examined and fundamentally changed.
“This will no doubt be a difficult task but we owe it to the victims and families this has affected and the countless decent police officers this has brought into disrepute.”
What does her review cover?
Baroness Casey will lead the review of culture and standards at the Metropolitan Police.
Former Met Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick announced the appointment in October 2021, saying it was an “important step in our journey to rebuild public trust”.
The inquiry will scrutinise the force’s vetting, recruitment, leadership, training and “all manner of processes to see how they reinforce the best possible standards”.
The review is expected to take six months, with the findings and recommendations published so that the force can “improve and make sure the public have more confidence in us”, Dame Cressida said at the time.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan welcomed her appointment as public trust in the city’s police has been “severely damaged and requires urgent rebuilding”.
He said in a statement on Twitter: “I’ve been clear with the Met Commissioner about the scale of the challenge we face and the change that’s needed, and I will continue to play my full part in holding the Met Police to account on behalf of Londoners.”
The spotlight will also be shone on the force’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command – who Couzens worked for – with a “root-and-branch review” looking at whether there are any “specific issues” within the unit.
Couzens was known as “the rapist” by staff at the Civil Nuclear Constabulary because he made female colleagues feel so uncomfortable.
He had been accused of indecent exposure in Kent in 2015 and in London in the days before Ms Everard’s murder, but was allowed to continue working.
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