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‘Every single person’: Call for all police officers to be re-vetted in wake of Sarah Everard murder

Written by on 03/10/2021

Every police officer in the UK should be re-vetted following the sentencing of Wayne Couzens, a former senior Metropolitan Police chief superintendent has said.

Parm Sandhu told Sky News she had “real concerns” more people “with questionable backgrounds” had been missed under current vetting procedures.

She spoke after Couzens was given a whole life order for the kidnap, rape, and murder of Sarah Everard.

The 48-year-old serving Met officer abducted Ms Everard under the guise of an arrest as she walked home from a friend’s house in south London on 3 March.

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Sarah Everard murder: How it happened

The police watchdog is investigating five officers over claims they traded misogynistic, racist, and homophobic material with Couzens over WhatsApp months before he killed Ms Everard, according to a report in The Times.

Ms Sandhu told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips on Sunday that Couzens was a “monster in uniform”, but added: “Unfortunately there is a culture where he was allowed to flourish.

“And the WhatsApp group that he was a part of, and other people are, is just one sign of that.”

More on Sarah Everard

“Everybody who works in policing now should be re-vetted. Those people who got through the vetting procedure 20 years ago, 30 years ago, all of them,” she said.

“Every single person needs to be reviewed and if anything comes up in their past – it doesn’t have to be a conviction, it just needs to come to notice, because this man did come to notice.

“It needs to be done now as an urgent measure to reassure the public and rebuild the trust and confidence that policing has lost, but it needs to be done on a regular basis so that we don’t have anybody that even comes close to the actions of Wayne Couzens.”

She continued: “This man not only got through the vetting after indecency offences in 2015, in 2018 he was taken into the Met – he was then given a gun to carry on the streets of London, so that was another form of vetting.”

Wayne Couzens
Image: Wayne Couzens was given a whole life order for the murder of Ms Everard

Ms Everard’s case has led to calls for Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick to step down in light of the erosion of trust in the force.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative party leader told Sky News it is time for a “new broom” in the Metropolitan Police and said there were “issues here about leadership and focus”.

He added: “The idea that a man can flash as a police officer … and people think it’s funny. I think that’s the thing that’s really failed. Why in hell’s name wasn’t he [Wayne Couzens] immediately reported, suspended at least pending full investigation, or sacked.”

It has also since emerged that Couzens was deployed to the Parliamentary Estate five times last year.

The Commons Speaker is seeking urgent talks with Commissioner Dick following the revelation.

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Watch Met Police commissioner’s apology

Ms Sandhu said the only way to rebuild public trust would be if everyone working in policing was re-vetted, and also called for an independent inquiry.

“I believe there are other individuals who have got questionable backgrounds who should be being looked at, not just in the Met but right up and down the country, and I think we have missed that,” she said.

“Instead of looking backwards, we should be looking forward and making sure those individuals are being targeted now.”

This process should be repeated on a “regular basis”, she added.

It comes as Police Scotland introduced a “simple” verification check for lone officers, to provide reassurance to the public they are genuine.

Are women safe on our streets?
Image: Are women safe on our streets?

Are women safe on our streets?

The murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Metropolitan Police officer has triggered an outpouring of concern over women’s safety in the UK.

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