Sarah Everard inquiry to focus on Couzens' 'red flags' and behaviour with women

10 January 2022, 12:06

An inquiry into how Sarah Everard was abducted and murdered will get under way this year
An inquiry into how Sarah Everard was abducted and murdered will get under way this year. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

An inquiry into how serving police officer Wayne Couzens was able to abduct, rape and murder Sarah Everard will look into his career and past accusations of criminal behaviour.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has published the terms of reference for phase one of the Angiolini Inquiry - named for the QC leading it - which will investigate how the tragedy could happen.

It is hoped a conclusion will be reached this year to give Ms Everard's family some answers.

"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.

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"The terms of reference agreed today for the Angiolini Inquiry are vital and will produce learning and recommendations for policing and others.

"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."

The first phase of the inquiry will look into former Met police officer Couzens' career and any relevant incidents, including accusations of past criminal behaviour and misconduct.

He pleaded guilty to murdering Ms Everard in July last year, and it led to heavy criticism of the Met.

The inquiry will also look into whether risks or red flags were missed, especially with regards to his vetting, and his behaviour with women.

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It will use information from the Met, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary - which Couzens worked for - Kent Police, witness statements and interviews, and findings from the police watchdog's investigations.

Ms Patel will then decide what should be examined in phase two of the inquiry, which will focus on policing and women's safety.

Dame Elish Angiolini QC, who is leading the inquiry, said: "The publication of the terms of reference is 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."