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Why were the red flags ignored?

Family hit out as report reveals Wayne Couzens reported 8 times to police before Everard killing

MURDERER cop Wayne Couzens was reported to police eight times before he went on to kill Sarah Everard, an inquiry found today. 

The review, chaired by Dame Elish Angiolini, found the killer had been carrying out other attacks over the span of decades.

The inquiry traced the former officer’s offences back to 1995 when he allegedly tried to kidnap a woman at knifepoint.

It also found evidence that he committed a “very serious sexual assault against a child” in 2002, and joined Kent Police soon after. 

A woman said Mr Couzens raped her in 2006 while he was a special constable, and that he raped a woman in October 2019 while he was an officer with the Met.

Although no allegations reached the police, he was reported to the force for indecent exposure eight times. 

But little action was taken and Dame Angiolini said that multiple “red flags” were ignored.

In 2015, Mr Couzens was reported for driving around with his genitalia exposed, but Kent Police closed the investigation without speaking to him.

When he applied to join the Met in 2018, the allegation never came to light.

A Police National Database check on Mr Couzens was recorded as “no trace” when there were entries relating to the incidents in 2013 and 2015.

In 2019, the Met overlooked his history in another vetting check and granted him a gun.

Dame Angiolini warned that without a radical overhaul of the force, there is “nothing to stop another Couzens operating in plain sight.”

She said it was “astonishing” that the Met told the inquiry in 2022 that they would still have recruited him if provided with the same information.

“Repeated failures in recruitment and vetting meant that Couzens could enjoy the powers and privileges that accompany the role of a police officer,” Dame Angiolini said.

“He went on to use his knowledge of police powers to falsely arrest Sarah Everard.”

Responding to the report, Everard’s family said: “We believe that Sarah died because he was a police officer — she would never have got into a stranger’s car.

“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.”

Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, was kidnapped, raped and killed by Mr Couzens, who was off duty, as she walked home in south London on March 3 2021.

The sacked cop is currently serving a whole-life jail term.

End Violence Against Women Coalition director Andrea Simon said it was “devastating” that Everard’s murder “was entirely preventable.” 

She said the report underlined the need for sexual offences such as indecent exposure to be taken seriously.

Like online abuse, she said that most women do not report them, police officers fail to investigate or take them seriously, and it is “trivialised across society.”

“Our justice agencies and wider society must take seriously these acts which are often part of patterns of offending that can ultimately include rape and murder,” she said.

Statewatch executive director Chris Jones said the report “is the latest in a long, long line of official inquiries that reveal the damning failures of police forces in this country.”

“Yet despite the institutional misogyny, racism and homophobia that holds these institutions together, governments continue to grant them ever greater powers, providing more and more possibilities for misuse and abuse,” he said.

“This will not make anyone any safer.”

The inquiry reviewed over 100,000 pages of documents and made 16 recommendations. 

Among them were recommendations that police introduce specialist policy on investigating all sexual offences, including non-contact offences by September. 

It also called for a rehaul of the police vetting policy, including robust use of the Police National Database, and home visit interviews. 

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