Our response to issues raised by the crimes of Wayne Couzens
Wayne Couzens has been sentenced to a whole-life term for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard.
The full details of his crimes are deeply concerning and raise entirely legitimate questions. This is the most horrific of crimes, but we recognise this is part of a much bigger and troubling picture.
There have been other murders of women in public spaces, including the killings of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, and very recently of Sabina Nessa. All of these bring into sharp focus our urgent duty to do more to protect women and girls.
Understanding the concerns of women in London is really important to us and we are undertaking a range of activity so we can better listen and respond.
Couzens’ crimes are the most extreme example of this betrayal. They have been shattering for everybody and of course people have questions about the integrity of officers.
We only want the best of the best in the Met and we will always act when our employees fall below the standards we and the public expect and erode the trust we depend upon.
All officers must and will now expect to work harder to gain the confidence of the public and be understanding and tolerant of reasonable questioning of their actions and identity as they go about their duty to protect Londoners.
What we are doing
Here are some of the measures we are taking:
the appointment of Baroness Casey of Blackstock to conduct a review of Met culture and standards in order to rebuild public trust
published a new action plan for tackling violence against women and girls - prioritising action against sexual and violent predatory offenders
specialist Predatory Offender Units
650 new officers into busy public places, including those where women and girls often lack confidence that they are safe
more reassurance patrols and an increased police presence in key “hotspot” locations for offences of violence and harassment
an urgent review of all current investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct and domestic abuse against our officers and staff to make certain that those who made the allegations are being properly supported and the investigations are comprehensive
an urgent dip sample of cases from the last 10 years where sexual misconduct and domestic abuse allegations have been made and those accused remain in the Met, to ensure that appropriate management measures, including vetting reviews, have been taken
a root and branch review of the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, with a particular focus on recruitment, vetting, culture, professional standards and supervision
an increase to the number of investigators within Professional Standards department to strengthen our proactive capability and prevent instances of our people abusing their positions of trust
Wayne Couzens transferred into the Met from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) in September 2018. His first posting was to South Area, serving initially in a Safer Neighbourhood Team, before joining a response team covering the Bromley area in February 2019.
He then moved to the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command in February 2020 where his primary role was to patrol diplomatic premises, mainly embassies.
Couzens stopped being paid as a police officer immediately following his guilty pleas. This was as soon as legally possible. The Met held an accelerated misconduct hearing following his guilty plea. He was dismissed on 16 July.
It has been claimed he was given a repugnant nickname while working for another police service. We are not aware of any evidence that supports this claim which was attributed to an anonymous source in the media. No one has come forward to us to confirm he was known as this.
We continue to build a picture of Couzens and would urgently appeal to anyone with information about this allegation during his service, including with the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, to contact us immediately.
Couzens betrayed Sarah and all of us when he used his knowledge, status and equipment to deceive and abduct Sarah and we do not understate the impact this has had on public confidence.
The fact that he used equipment given to him by the Met is reprehensible and it compounds the dreadful nature of his crimes.
Nevertheless, it has to be the case that officers are able, on occasion, to take some or all of their equipment with them, between places of duty and where needed, travelling to and from work. They do not require explicit permission. It is a personal decision that has to be done for legitimate reasons and that they will have to justify if challenged.
Couzens used his warrant card as part of his deception to identify himself as a police officer. Every officer carries a warrant card.
Officers must only use their warrant cards for specific purposes – identification or to demonstrate they are acting as a police officer.
Met officers also take an oath where they promise to be a police officer around the clock and are expected to intervene even if off duty if they see someone committing an offence or there is another need to protect the public. In these circumstances their warrant card helps them identify themselves and demonstrate they are acting as an officer.
Verifying an officer's identity and intentions
It is very unusual for a single plain clothed police officer to engage with anyone. However, if you do find yourself in an interaction with a lone police officer in plain clothes and you are on your own, that officer will provide verification of their identity by putting you in direct contact with their colleagues in the local police operations room.
Using a video call, which can either be to your own device, or to the officer’s device, you will be able to see and speak to a uniformed police officer in what will visibly be a police operations room and they will be able to conduct the necessary checks and provide reassurance that the officer is who they say they are and they are acting appropriately.
Additionally, you can still call 999, to ask for verification of an officer’s identification and reassurance.