Police watchdog probes 16 officers linked to Sarah Everard case

Sarah Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens swapped ‘vile’ racist, sexist and homophobic WhatsApp messages with other officers now under criminal investigation as ex-chief constable says police are ‘institutionally misogynistic’

  • Three serving Met officers are among six in WhatsApp group being investigated
  • They allegedly shared horrific content with Couzens in months before murder 
  • The police watchdog is investigating a total of 16 officers linked to the case
  • They include a probationer on the cordon at scene where her body was found 
  • Wayne Couzens exchanged misogynistic, racist and homophobic texts with his police colleagues who are now facing a criminal investigation, it has been claimed.

    Five serving officers, three of whom work for the Met, and one former officer, allegedly shared horrific content with Sarah Everard’s killer on a WhatsApp group months before the murder.

    After his arrest in March, detectives found ‘vile’ messages on his phone with his police colleagues, according to The Times. 

    Aside from the three serving officers working for the Met, one under investigation is from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and another works for Norfolk Constabulary. 

    The former officer was also previously with the Met.

    When Sue Fish, a former chief constable of Nottinghamshire, was asked on Times Radio if she believed the police force was institutionally misogynistic, she replied: ‘Yes, I do. And that’s not just the Metropolitan Police, that’s policing, structurally, across the country.’

    The police watchdog is investigating the conduct of 15 officers and one former officer linked to the Sarah Everard (pictured) case

    The police watchdog is investigating the conduct of 15 officers and one former officer linked to the Sarah Everard (pictured) case 

    Three of the serving officers under investigation work for the Metropolitan Police, run by under-fire Dame Cressida Dick

    Three of the serving officers under investigation work for the Metropolitan Police, run by under-fire Dame Cressida Dick

    The Independent Police Complaints Commission said in a statement: ‘They are being investigated for gross misconduct for allegedly sending messages of a discriminatory and/or inappropriate nature, and for allegedly failing to challenge the messages sent by the others.

    ‘Two of the MPS officers and the former MPS officer have also been notified that they are being criminally investigated for improper use of the public electronic communications network under Section 127 of the Communications Act.

    ‘Criminal or gross misconduct investigations do not necessarily mean that charges or disciplinary proceedings will follow.’

    The police watchdog is investigating the conduct of a total of 15 officers and a former officer linked to the Ms Everard case.

    Wayne Couzens exchanged misogynistic, racist and homophobic texts with his police colleagues who are now facing a criminal investigation, it has been reported

    Wayne Couzens exchanged misogynistic, racist and homophobic texts with his police colleagues who are now facing a criminal investigation, it has been reported

    Asked earlier whether Couzens was a ‘bad apple’ in the police or an extreme example of an institutional problem, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said: ‘I’m wrestling with that myself.’

    FEAR THAT STOPS US NAMING MALE PCS 

    A former Scotland Yard chief superintendent said female officers were afraid to report male colleagues for misconduct due to fears their calls for help would be ignored if they were assaulted on the street.

    Parm Sandhu, 58, also called for Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick to resign over the Couzens case because the force needed a leader who was not afraid of ‘turning over those stones and finding those awful reptiles underneath it’.

    Parm Sandhu (pictured), 58, said female officers were afraid to report male colleagues for misconduct

    Parm Sandhu (pictured), 58, said female officers were afraid to report male colleagues for misconduct

    Miss Sandhu, who successfully sued the force for discrimination last year, told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One she had been ‘vilified’ when she raised concerns about her own treatment.

    She added: ‘A lot of women will not report their colleagues.

    ‘What happens is that male officers will then close ranks and the fear that most women officers have got is that when you are calling for help, you press that emergency button or your radio, they’re not going to turn up and you’re going to get kicked in the street.’

    In an interview with Times Radio, Miss Sandhu, said it was time for Dame Cressida, who recently extended her contract for an additional two years, to leave the role.

    She said: ‘The buck stops with the boss and the boss is Cressida. This has happened on her watch. 

    ‘We need a new set of fresh eyes, somebody who’s going to be independent.’

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    Others under investigation by the IOPC include a Scotland Yard probationer on the cordon at the scene where her body was discovered. 

    He is alleged to have sent a shocking WhatsApp message showing how a policeman could abduct and kill a woman as a joke.

    Two other constables on probation are also being investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct over allegations they shared the graphic and failed to challenge it. 

    Another inquiry is underway separately into Police Federation members accused of breaching standards of professional behaviour by sharing information linked to the case on a secure messaging app.

    The IOPC has said it will seek to conclude the investigations ‘as swiftly as possible’. 

    Meanwhile, it has emerged that 771 Met officers and staff have faced sexual misconduct allegations since 2010, with at least 44 convicted of sexual offences.

    Freedom of Information figures reveal that 163 were arrested and 83 were sacked without notice.

    Of those arrested, 78 were charged and 44 convicted. 

    At least 18 were jailed and nine were given suspended jail sentences. 

    The allegations included rape, sexual harassment, sexual assault and abusing a position of power for sex.

    Some 89 per cent of officers and staff members who faced an internal investigation over complaints were male. Formal action was taken in 156 cases. 

    As well as the sackings, 46 people retired or resigned once the complaint against them was upheld.

    Of the sexual misconduct claims, it was found that there was no case to answer or the allegation was unsubstantiated on 446 occasions.

    The force is Britain’s largest, with 43,000 officers and staff. 

    It has 25 per cent of the total police budget for England and Wales.

    A Scotland Yard spokesman said last night: ‘We take any police-perpetrated abuse incidents extremely seriously and they are regularly scrutinised at a senior level.

    ‘Any allegation, disclosure or conviction of sexual harassment or abuse perpetrated by an officer or member of staff is robustly investigated.’

    He stressed: ‘Tackling sexual offences is a priority for the Met – and that includes when our own officers or staff are accused of offences. 

    ‘The Met will not hesitate to bring forward prosecutions and disciplinary procedures where there is evidence to do so.’

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