Sarah Everard: All police forces to review allegations of violence against serving officers

13 October 2021, 14:01

Sarah Everard was murdered by serving Met Police officer Wayne Couzens
Sarah Everard was murdered by serving Met Police officer Wayne Couzens. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

All police forces in England and Wales will review allegations of violence against women and girls involving serving officers in the wake of Sarah Everard's murder.

In a bid to restore public trust after Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens was jailed for the 33-year-old's kidnap, rape and murder, police chiefs have also been tasked with checking incidents of indecent exposure.

Forces will also look again at vetting practices to make sure checks are complying with procedures.

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The move forms part of an action plan set at a National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) meeting with all chief constables last week.

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said police bosses were doing "everything that we can do to ensure that the way we deal with violence against women and girls is as effective and as assertive as it can be".

He said: "We've commissioned a review of all of the incidents that relate to violence against women and girls, and issues around indecent exposure... any of those incidents by serving police officers and staff."

This is so forces can make sure allegations are being, or have been, properly investigated and also to check that information is being shared between forces if officers have moved jobs or have been arrested in a different area.

Reiterating the "betrayal" and disgust felt at the actions of Couzens, Mr Hewitt said: "It was a sombre and quite a reflective meeting but also positive, I think, in the sense of the determination of all of the chief constables to do what is necessary to start rebuilding the trust that has been lost as a result of this."

He added: "There are things that we can do, there are things that we know we need to do, we absolutely have to be listening."

While the work is being co-ordinated by the NPCC, forces will conduct the individual reviews internally. No timeframe has yet been set for carrying out the checks and it is unclear whether the findings will be made public.

Mr Hewitt added: "But be under no illusion, these are immediate actions that we determined last week needed to be taken. This is not something that people are going to be sitting on and waiting."

The news comes as Deputy Chief Constable Maggie Blyth was appointed to lead the NPCC's work on violence against women and girls and co-ordinate police action across England and Wales.

Ms Blyth, who took up the role on Monday, is responsible for overseeing a new police strategy which will focus on how to prevent violence, target perpetrators and help victims get justice.

Mr Hewitt will continue to look at how the NPCC responds in the long term.

Last week the Met Police announced it was carrying out an urgent examination of all ongoing sexual and domestic abuse allegations against officers and staff alongside its own independent review of the force's standards and culture while the Home Secretary launched an inquiry to look into the "systematic failures" that allowed Ms Everard's killer to be employed as a police officer.