‘Wayne Couzens should never have been a police officer’: Angiolini Inquiry lays bare Met failings

An inquiry launched in the aftermath of the murder of Sarah Everard by serving Met cop Wayne Couzens three years ago has said he should never have been allowed to remain a police officer.

The independent Angiolini Inquiry was established to review how off-duty firearms officer Couzens was able to abduct, rape and murder Ms Everard in March 2021.

The scathing dossier revealed how Couzens was repeatedly reported for indecent exposure before Sarah’s murder but was allowed to stay in his job as an officer by three separate police forces who missed the “red flags”.

The chairwoman of the report, Lady Elish Angiolini, described Couzens as a “predatory sex offender and murderer”, whose actions revealed the “fragility of public trust and confidence in policing”.

Sarah Everard was murdered by Wayne Couzens in 2021 (Picture: Family handout)

In a statement responding to the report today, Sarah’s family, Sue, Jeremy, Katie and James Everard, said: “It is almost three years now since Sarah died. 

“We no longer wait for her call, we no longer expect to see her. We know she won’t be there at family gatherings. But the desperate longing to have her with us remains and the loss of Sarah pervades every part of our lives. 

“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.”

The Angiolini Inquiry revealed stark vetting failures which allowed Couzens to gain sensitive firearms protection roles despite debts, being reported missing from his home on one occasion and his car being linked to an indecent exposure report in 2015.

Specifically, the report identified Couzens had a known “liking” for “violent and extreme” pornography and a history of alleged sexual offending which dated back nearly 20 years.

Wayne Couzens is serving a life sentence in jail (Picture: The Met)

Couzens joined Kent Police as a special constable in 2002, before joining the Met in 2018.

The inquiry said he was accused of sexually assaulting a child “barely in her teens” while in he was in his early 20s. In 2015, Couzens’ car was linked to a report of indecent exposure – but there was no investigation and he was not even spoken to by Kent Police, who received the report.

The report also reveals how Couzens watched indecent images of children and allegedly carried out nine indecent exposure offences, mostly while he was serving in the police.

In the report, Lady Angiolini said: “Wayne Couzens was never fit to be a police officer. Police leaders need to be sure there isn’t another Couzens operating in plain sight.”

Ms Everard was killed on March 3, 2021, by Couzens, who was off-duty at the time. He kidnapped her under the false guise of an arrest for breaking lockdown restrictions, then raped and murdered her.

People in the crowd turn on their phone torches in Clapham Common after the Reclaim These Streets vigil for Sarah Everard was officially cancelled (Picture: PA)

Sarah’s parents said they believed their daughter died because Couzens was a police officer, and said she would never have got into a stranger’s car.

Couzens was sacked by the Met after his arrest and is now serving a whole-life sentence.

Responding to the Inquiry, Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley’s said: “There is nothing we can say to the family of Sarah Everard and all those who loved her that will convey how very sorry we are. Wayne Couzens’ crimes were horrific. 

“The report published today is an urgent call to action for all of us in policing. We must go further and faster, to earn back the trust of all those whose confidence in policing has been shaken by events of recent years.

“Regardless of our significant progress over the past year, the scale of the change that is needed inevitably means it will take time and it is not yet complete.”

(Picture: The Met)

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