he police are facing a crisis in public trust after a serving officer raped and murdered Sarah Everard.
Wayne Couzens was on Thursday given a whole life order, meaning he will die in jail, after posing as an undercover policeman on a Covid patrol in order to handcuff Ms Everard and force her into his vehicle.
Further questions are being asked of the police after it emerged Couzens’ colleagues appeared to be aware of his preference for violent pornography, nicknaming him The Rapist.
The police watchdog is also investigating after a number of co-workers allegedly shared racist and sexist content with Couzens in a WhatsApp group.
There seems to have been a number of missed opportunities to fire Couzens after he was linked to three flashing incidents with no further action taken.
Here we look at the police failings in full:Couzens’ colleagues accused of gross misconduct
Five police officers and one former officer are under investigation after allegedly sharing grossly offensive material with Couzens on a WhatsApp group before he murdered Ms Everard.
The content of the group was uncovered during the investigation into Ms Everard’s death.
Some of it was reportedly misogynistic, racist and homophobic in nature.
Three of the officers are subject to criminal investigation for offences under Section 127 of the Communications Act, which refers to material that is “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character”.
Couzens is not one of the officers under investigation.
Couzens was nicknamed The Rapist
While working for the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) in 2011, Couzens’ co-workers were aware that he was attracted to violent pornography and allegedly nicknamed him The Rapist.
Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Tom Winsor has expressed fears of an alleged “culture of colleague protection” within the police.
“I have previously raised concerns about the failures, in some places, of police anti-corruption units having inadequate capacity and curiosity in relation to the behaviour and attitudes of police officers,” he told Sky News.
“In too many respects they are failing to take appropriate action and throw these people out.”
Couzens first became involved with the police in 2005, when he joined the Kent force as a special (volunteer) constable.
But his plea hearing at the Old Bailey in July heard that he was involved in an “incident” of a sexual nature in 2002.
Police forces are obliged to carry out thorough vetting and background checks on special constables, but it is unclear if they were made aware of this “incident”.
Flashing allegations were not investigated
Couzens was reported to police in Kent for allegedly driving around naked from the waist down in 2015.
The IOPC is now investigating why Kent Police took no further action and why they allegedly failed to look into the report properly.
The Met are also being investigated after Couzens allegedly flashed in a McDonald’s in south London two weeks before Ms Everard’s death.
Couzens was also linked to a flashing incident at a fast food restaurant in Swanley, Kent, 72 hours before the marketing executive went missing.
While he was not named as a suspect in the south London incident, a DVLA check on a car linked to it would have revealed him as the registered owner.
Couzens wasn’t properly vetted
Couzens was working for the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, patrolling foreign embassies, when he kidnapped and killed Ms Everard.
It is alleged that he did not complete his two years’ probation before joining the specialist department and did not undergo the advanced vetting required for the diplomatic unit.
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave has admitted a check when Couzens transferred to the Metropolitan Police in 2018 was not done “correctly”.
It did not flag up that a vehicle associated with Couzens had been identified in a Kent Police investigation into an indecent exposure in 2015.