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‘Corrupt’ minority of police ‘using their position to do terrible things,’ former Home Sec Dame Priti Patel tells LBC

4 March 2024, 09:57 | Updated: 4 March 2024, 10:14

Dame Priti Patel told LBC there should be a government review into how the police watchdog is working
Dame Priti Patel told LBC there should be a government review into how the police watchdog is working. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Asher McShane

A 'corrupt' minority of police are "carrying out appalling abuses" of their position and undermining public trust in forces around the country, former Home Secretary Dame Priti Patel told LBC this morning.

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Dame Priti told Nick Ferrari at Breakfast this morning that a "tiny tiny minority" of police were "carrying out appalling abuses" of their positions of power.

She said some individuals had been "swayed by power, influence, position."

"They are not good people," she added.

‘Corrupt’ minority of police ‘using their position to do terrible things,’ former Home Secretary Dame Priti Patel tells LBC

She said these individuals have been "corrupted by the system they are in" and were "using their position to do corrupt and terrible, terrible things."

"The more you can take the lid off the Pandora's box and expose terrible practices - that’s important." she added.

She said the vast majority of police were "good, decent, public spirited, public servants" who "care about our country and care about protecting the public."

Her comments come days after a major public inquiry into the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by Wayne Couzens in 2021 revealed the former officer continued to serve despite the attempted kidnap of one woman at knifepoint and the rape of two others.

Ahead of a new documentary being aired tomorrow night, a detective who led the investigation into Sarah's kidnap, rape and murder told of the chilling moment she learned that killer Couzens was a serving police officer.

Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin has described the bombshell moment she learned about Couzens in a new documentary about the 33-year-old's murder.

DCI Goodwin sent a team to Wayne Couzens' house, located in Deal Kent, to question him.

As police were making their way to the killer's home, a detective ran into the inspector’s office, shutting the door and telling her: "You need to hear this".

On the phone, a researcher then revealed that Couzens was a serving Met police officer.

DCI Goodwin said: "I knew that I had to tell my boss and I can just remember the shock of having to just sit on the floor of the office and say to her, 'You're not going to believe this, that he's a police officer'.

On the phone, a researcher then revealed that Couzens was a serving Met police officer.
On the phone, a researcher then revealed that Couzens was a serving Met police officer. Picture: PA

"And then the same questions went through her head as went through my head, 'Are you sure?'."

DCI Goodwin also revealed that police discovered Couzens had been suspected of an indecent exposure offence in Kent - just days before they found out he was a serving Met officer.

They discovered this after Miss Everard and Couzens were seen on CCTV next to his car, leading to his identification.

Read more: Sadiq Khan says faith in the Met Police will 'take years' to restore on anniversary of Sarah Everard's murder

Read more: ‘Red flags’ about Sarah Everard’s killer should have seen him kicked out of police, Sadiq Khan tells LBC

A former Met detective who was the first to question Couzens, also remembered his reaction when he found out the killer was a serving officer.

He said it was “one of those moments that the bottom falls out of your stomach”.

"The gravity of the whole situation then became incredibly clear. You know, the moment I told the team, it just went silent," said Nick Harvey.

After knocking on his door, showing his warrant card, Couzens "went grey," Harvey said.

He told Couzens, now 51, he would one day face her family across the courtroom and said: “You’ve got an opportunity, here right now, to help us find Sarah and bring her back home to her family”.

Couzens replied: “Hand on heart, I don’t know where she is”

Police footage from the documentary shows Couzens during interrogation.

An officer says to him: "People trust us to look after them. People trust us to help them. You know, protect and serve, that's what they say, isn't it? That's what we're here to do. We all took that oath, you included."

A damning report into Wayne Couzens, who kidnapped and murdered Sarah Everard while a serving Met police officer, was released on Thursday.

Couzens was put behind bars for the rest of his life for raping and murdering Sarah in 2021.
Couzens was put behind bars for the rest of his life for raping and murdering Sarah in 2021. Picture: Alamy

Lady Elish Angiolini has described the culture in policing as doing "nothing to discourage his misogynistic views" meaning his "deviant behaviour could flourish".

The 350-page report revealed that Couzens tried to kidnap one woman at knifepoint before the killing of Sarah Everard and was allowed to continue serving in the force despite eight separate reports of indecent exposure.

She said: "The evidence seen by the Inquiry has shown that failures in recruitment and vetting meant Couzens was able to continue a policing career which should have been denied to him.

"Failures in investigations into allegations of indecent exposure meant opportunities to disrupt Couzens’ offending and bring his policing career to a halt were missed.

"Three separate forces allowed him the privilege of being a police officer when they could and should have stopped him.”

Jess Phillips, Labour MP and former shadow minister for domestic violence has said that the problem is more than just a "bad apple".

Jess Phillips says the case of Wayne Couzens isn't just 'one bad apple'

Speaking to LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr, Ms Phillips said: "It wasn’t that the vetting missed what happened, they knew, the flags were not unknown. They knew the problems with Couzens and employed him anyway.

Speaking following the findings, Kent Police said in a statement: "Everyone at Kent Police is shocked, appalled and disgusted by the crimes Wayne Couzens committed against Sarah Everard and we share in the collective grief for her loss.

"Part I of the Angiolini Inquiry report has been made available to us today, and whilst we continue to carefully consider its contents we fully accept the recommendations made by Kent Police.

Couzens, 50, was put behind bars for the rest of his life for raping and murdering Sarah in 2021.
Couzens, 50, was put behind bars for the rest of his life for raping and murdering Sarah in 2021. Picture: Alamy

"We also accept our investigation into a 2015 incident of indecent exposure was flawed due to it being allocated to an officer who was not a trained investigator, and apologise for this failing."

The documentary, Sarah Everard: The Search For Justice, has been in production for two and a half years and will air on BBC One on Tuesday at 9pm - days after the third anniversary of her murder.

Couzens was jailed for the rest of his life last year for Sarah’s rape and murder.

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