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Statement – Angiolini Inquiry Part 1

The Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, Baroness Newlove, welcomes Dame Elish Angiolini’s report on Part One of her inquiry into the offending of Wayne Couzens.

The Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, Baroness Newlove, said:
On Sunday it will be 3 years since Couzens brutally murdered Sarah Everard. I extend my deepest sympathies to her family. I commend their determination that this inquiry leads to a wholesale cultural change in policing. Indeed, upon reading the inquiry report, it is clear that nothing short of radical transformation is needed.

The report outlines a catalogue of red flags which were overlooked during the vetting procedure, both in terms of Couzens’ previous criminal offending and his career progression in policing. Failure to pick these up gave him the opportunity to exploit his role as an officer to murder Sarah. As her family have said, in response to the report, ‘Sarah died because he was a police officer’. Without question he should never have been afforded that opportunity. He should not have passed vetting.

Couzens failed vetting on at least 2 occasions and yet was allowed to become a voluntary officer, progressing to the equivalent rank of sergeant before going on to become an armed officer.
His sexual offending was reported but not investigated. Sadly, that is not unusual. It starkly demonstrates how indecent exposure is often minimised and how these offences are not properly investigated. It also shows the danger of characterising the offending as ‘minor’, despite known risks of escalation.

His colleagues evidenced his misogynistic attitudes towards women, which included sharing extreme porn and cyber-flashing. Yet despite this he remained in post. This points to a culture which, at best, ignores those who hold problematic views and, at worst, allows those views to flourish unchecked.

The above failings and many of the recommendations in the report are not new. They have been highlighted on many previous occasions.I hope this report brings about real change in the investigation of sexual offences, in vetting procedures and importantly in policing culture.

The time has come for police leaders to demonstrate zero tolerance. To stamp on unacceptable behaviours and attitudes, and to hold officers accountable for criminal behaviour.