Person who allowed Wayne Couzens to be employed ‘has to be for the chopping block’, Jess Phillips tells LBC

29 February 2024, 19:01

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

By Jenny Medlicott

Jess Phillips has called for the person who allowed Wayne Couzens to be employed ‘knowing the red flags’ to be sacked.

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

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

Couzens was also accused of a series of "very serious" sexual offences against a young girl while he was in his twenties.

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

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

“It’s not a bad apple’s problem, this is a systemic problem.

“If a police force allowed somebody with that many red flags, then the person who allowed that also has to be for the chopping block.”

Read more: Yvette Cooper calls for police being probed for sex or domestic abuse to be suspended, after damning Couzens report

Read more: Killer cop Wayne Couzens reported to police eight times prior to the killing of Sarah Everard

The report into Wayne Couzens was published on Thursday.
The report into Wayne Couzens was published on Thursday. Picture: Alamy

Ms Phillips also said that a lack of “action” has stalled efforts to cut down on violence against women.

She continued: “It’s not talk it’s action that is missing. They need to take serious action, and the Metropolitan police, I have to say, there are other police forces that are exactly the same.

“There has not been the political will and the political prioritisation. There is not a single one of the government’s promises that has got anything to do with this.

“If there was that much political will, there was 55,000 people who came on the boats last year, there were nearly a million reports of domestic abuse to the police. So, why is it that I’ve seen three pieces of legislation come through parliament about one thing and nothing about the other?”

Her comments come after Ms Everard's family has revealed that 'Sarah only died because he was a police officer.’

London Mayor Sadiq Khan also admitted to LBC that "red flags" about Sarah Everard’s killer should have seen him kicked out of the force.

The then-serving PC had served in three police forces before he committed the murder, moving from Kent Police to the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) before joining the Metropolitan Police.

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

Sarah Everard's family said she would not have died if Wayne Couzens hadn't been a police officer.
Sarah Everard's family said she would not have died if Wayne Couzens hadn't been a police officer. Picture: Alamy

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.”

The Most Shocking Findings

  • Couzen had a taste for extreme porn with alleged offences dating back 20 years.
  • He was accused of sexually assaulting a child in his early 20s.
  • He was accused of sharing unsolicited photographs of his penis and possessing indecent images of children.
  • Couzens attempted to carry out a kidnapping at knifepoint in London in 1995.
  • He also allegedly showed pornographic videos to a group of reservists in 2004, including bestiality.
  • He was reported to police eight times for exposing himself prior to Sarah Everard's murder.
  • No one questioned him over a 2015 report of indecent exposure.
  • Three police investigations into reports of indecent exposure prior to Ms Everard's murder were 'inadequate'.
  • 'Sarah only died because he was a police officer,’ her family says.
  • The force's failure to investigate allegations of indecent exposure allowed Couzens’ to continue offending.
  • 'Wayne Couzens should never have been a police officer,' Lady Angiolini's report explains.

Sarah Everard’s family have welcomed the recommendations, saying: “The Inquiry has raised many important issues and will undoubtedly help to establish changes that will improve the safety of women and girls.“As a family, the Inquiry has helped us, not just because of its significant findings, but because its implementation made us feel that Sarah’s life was valued and her memory honoured. Her death has not been dismissed as a tragic event to be acknowledged with sympathy and then forgotten.

“It is obvious that Wayne Couzens should never have been a police officer. Whilst holding a position of trust, in reality he was a serial sex offender. Warning signs were overlooked throughout his career and opportunities to confront him were missed. We believe that Sarah died because he was a police officer – she would never have got into a stranger’s car.”

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