Metropolitan Police officers who traded sick WhatsApp messages with Sarah Everard’s murderer Wayne Couzens are still on duty
- Two constables in WhatsApp group allegedly shared ‘vile’ texts with Couzens
- They are still on duty even after being placed under criminal investigation
- The revelation will raise fresh concerns about a culture of misogyny in the force
Two Metropolitan Police officers who swapped highly offensive messages with murderer Wayne Couzens are still on duty, it emerged last night.
The constables are alleged to have been part of a WhatsApp group involving officers from three forces who fell under investigation after Couzens’s phone was seized following his arrest.
It is claimed they have been left on duty even after being placed under criminal investigation for allegedly exchanging sexist and racist messages with the sexual predator.
Two Metropolitan Police officers who swapped highly offensive messages with murderer Wayne Couzens are still on duty
The revelation will raise fresh concerns about a culture of misogyny in the force and the adequacy of officer vetting procedures.
It also raises questions about further missed opportunities to investigate Couzens earlier.
Yesterday Sue Fish, a former chief constable of Nottinghamshire Police, criticised the Met’s decision not to suspend the officers under investigation. ‘That beggars belief. That clearly demonstrates the Met does not get it… does not get the seriousness,’ she told the Guardian.
The Met’s decision contrasts with the actions of other forces who have suspended officers while the investigation continues.
According to the police watchdog, the alleged ‘vile’ messages denigrating women started in March 2019, just months after Couzens joined Scotland Yard in September 2018.
Met Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave has admitted that vetting procedures were not followed properly when Couzens joined.
Officers failing to carry out a check on his vehicle which would have linked the killer to an indecent exposure report in 2015.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is looking at dozens of messages exchanged between the group of officers including constables from the Civil Nuclear and Norfolk constabularies between March and October 2019.
Sue Fish, a former chief constable of Nottinghamshire Police, criticised the Met’s decision not to suspend the officers under investigation
At the time, Couzens was working in Bromley, south-east London, for Safer Neighbourhood Teams before he transferred to the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command in 2020.
Yesterday it emerged the IOPC has decided not to investigate Couzens, instead concentrating on serving officers accused of sending discriminatory and inappropriate messages and failing to challenge Couzens.
A spokesman for the IOPC said: ‘Due to the criminal charges being faced and subsequent guilty pleas by Wayne Couzens for the murder, kidnap and rape of Sarah Everard, it was not thought to be appropriate to investigate him as a subject in a conduct investigation.’
Yesterday the Met said two constables had been placed on restricted duties. A third former Met officer is also under investigation.
Yesterday Lord Paddick, a former Met deputy assistant commissioner and now the Lib Dems’ home affairs spokesman in the House of Lords, said there needs to be a ‘cultural change’ in the Met.
‘I wouldn’t go so far as to call it institutional misogyny, but I would describe it as widespread sexism within the force, and we need police leaders to acknowledge prejudice within the police service,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Norfolk Constabulary said: ‘We can confirm the officer has been suspended from duty while the allegations are under investigation.’
The Civil Nuclear Constabulary said: ‘The officer in question was suspended from duty in August as soon as we were informed of the IOPC investigation.’
Ex-Met chief’s bombshell: As it is revealed Wayne Couzens was named as McDonald’s flasher THREE DAYS BEFORE Sarah Everard’s murder but police didn’t spot he was a cop – now Cressida Dick MUST be accountable
Wayne Couzens was named as a suspect in a sex offence 72 hours before he killed Sarah Everard, it emerged for the first time last night.
The revelation came as former Met Commissioner Lord Stevens heaped pressure on Cressida Dick, saying she must ask herself if she bears any responsibility for the failures in the case.
CCTV evidence of a car involved in an alleged flashing incident at a drive-thru McDonald’s in February this year generated the name ‘Wayne Couzens’ as a suspect on Metropolitan Police systems – and provided his address.
Wayne Couzens was named as a suspect in a sex offence 72 hours before he killed Sarah Everard
But officers failed to realise that he was a serving officer and further inquiries were not made until after Miss Everard’s disappearance on March 3.
And last night, a former head of Scotland Yard said police chief Dame Cressida must be held accountable for an ‘appalling series of blunders’ in the case.
In a stinging rebuke Lord Stevens, who served as Met Commissioner between 2000 and 2005, said: ‘You have to look at yourself and say can I continue? Can I continue with confidence?
‘Can I continue in way that brings around the change that’s necessary to make the public feel safe – and in this particular instance, women safe. And further, have we got people in the police service who should not be there?’
It came as damning new claims emerged about Met police blunders.
It had been known that Couzens’ car was reported by staff at a McDonald’s restaurant in Swanley, Kent, after two female workers said they had been flashed by a motorist there on February 7 and again on February 27. The complaint was made on February 28.
A former head of Scotland Yard said police chief Dame Cressida must be held accountable for an ‘appalling series of blunders’
But last night it emerged the CCTV evidence showing his number plate had actually brought up Couzens’ name as a suspect on Met police systems.
Yesterday a McDonald’s worker who was flashed by the sexual predator blasted officers for ‘not acting quickly enough’. The worker, who did not want to be named, said: ‘The police took our statements and took away CCTV. If they had taken this more seriously, they could easily have figured out that he was a policeman who had committed these crimes.
‘The police had three days to stop him but didn’t. It could have stopped him from doing a lot worse.’
Lord Stevens stopped short of calling for Dame Cressida’s resignation, but suggested she could not restore faith in Britain’s biggest police force after Couzens, one of her officers, was sentenced to a whole life term for the murder of Miss Everard – a 33-year-old marketing executive.
Former Met Commissioner Lord Stevens heaped pressure on Cressida Dick, saying she must ask herself if she bears any responsibility
He also criticised the force’s vetting procedures describing them as ‘not fit for purpose’ following an ‘extraordinary story of blunders’ that allowed a man nicknamed ‘the rapist’ to join the force. Vetting officers failed to check Couzens’ vehicle record, which would have revealed a link to an indecent exposure in Kent in 2015 when Couzens was reported by a male motorist driving around naked from the waist down.
Met Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave has said Couzens would still have got into the force even if vetting officers had known because Kent Police failed to identify Couzens – then one of their own special constables – as the driver and decided it did not merit any further action.
Lord Stevens told LBC: ‘The fact that [Couzens] in 2015 was seen to be driving around without any clothes on from his waist downwards, the fact he was called a rapist, the fact that he was a really strange individual, I mean there is no way that that man should have been given a gun… the vetting process is obviously not fit for the purpose.’
It has emerged that Couzens allegedly shared highly offensive sexual messages abusing women on a WhatsApp group with five serving officers, including three from the Met, just months after he joined the force.
Policing Minister Kit Malthouse warned the police faced a long road to regaining public trust. He said the murder had ‘struck a devastating blow to the confidence that people have in police officers but also in the Met police in particular.’
A Met spokesman said: ‘The Met received an allegation of indecent exposure some 72 hours before Sarah was abducted. That crime was allocated for investigation but by the time of Sarah’s abduction it was not concluded.’
Source: Read Full Article