Sarah Everard Murder: Intensify Internal Surveillance of Police Officers

Many political and civil activists believe that if PC Wayne Couzens’s behaviour had been adequately monitored in the past, we would not have witnessed Sarah Everard’s murder today.


Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive was on her way home on 3 March, when she was raped by Wayne Couzens in a rented car and strangled to death. She had even talked to her boyfriend, Josh Lowth, on the phone earlier for about 15 minutes and said that she was coming home, but she never returned.

Based on evidence, it seems that Couzens had not seen the victim before, did not know her, and had not contacted her. Evidence shows that he left the body in a builder’s bag in Ashford, Kent. Surveillance cameras revealed that Couzens had left the remains in the bag two days after Ms Everard’s murder.

The arrest of PC Wayne Couzens and his confession to Everard’s murder last Friday has led to widespread public outrage and dissatisfaction with police incompetence and violence against women. Among them, MP Nick Thomas Symonds, Shadow Home Secretary for Labour, has said: “The Metropolitan Police and wider policing must look at vetting processes and their own safeguarding systems to ensure people who pose a threat to the public are not able to hold such vital positions of trust.”

Couzens reportedly committed misconduct in 2015 while serving in Kent Police. Tom Richards, the assistant chief constable with Kent police, said: “It was reported at the time that a man unknown to the complainant had been spotted driving a car whilst naked from the waist down. No arrests were made.”

Also, three days before the tragedy, reports had been made of two other misconducts at a McDonald’s in South London. These three alleged misconducts had not been fully investigated.

Following the murder, the issue of insecurity for girls and women on the streets was raised again. Demonstrations took place in several cities, including Bristol, Cardiff, Manchester, Glasgow, Ladywood, Birmingham, Belfast, and Liverpool.

Women’s rights activists have protested police failures and misconduct around the Everard case. They made clear in the protests that women do not feel safe with male police violence, calling for an independent inquiry into police misconduct and systemic changes to tackle violence, including gender-based violence. They said it is very clear that the police are not able to protect people including, young women, and therefore they do not trust the police, demanding concrete and quick action to help build trust and confidence among all.

Jess Phillips, a Labour lawmaker, said that the murder of women is not a rare incident, but common: “Dead women is just one of those things” she said, adding that in the last year, at least 118 women have been killed by men.

Police mistreatment of the public has increased in recent years. According to official statistics, more than 700 cases of police misconduct have been reported in the past three years.

Wayne Couzens joined the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) in 2011 and served there until 2018, before transferring to the Metropolitan Police Service to protect parliamentary and diplomatic premises such as the Palace of Westminster, Downing Street, and embassies. Has he been adequately supervised as a special officer in these years?

“All of us in the Met are sickened, angered, and devastated by this man’s truly dreadful crimes. Everyone in policing feels betrayed,” Cressida Dick, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police said.

The consequence of this murder is the increasing distrust by people towards the Met Police and the spread of a sense of betrayal among police officers. At the same time, the issue of the Met neglecting the crisis of violence against women has become more prominent; the murder of Sarah Everard, on the other hand, took place while the Metropolitan Police was also faced with extremists. These incidents at the Met show the depth of the system’s vulnerability.

After the Benjamin Hannam case, Sarah Everard’s murder is the second major case to question police vulnerabilities in recent months. Hannam, a 22-year-old police officer, was charged last April with being a member of the extreme-right group National Action before joining the police. These cases raise the question of why is there not enough supervision of police recruitment? Wayne Couzens is expected to be sentenced next month and will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. But is he the only culprit?

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