Sarah Everard: Baroness Louise Casey to lead independent review of Metropolitan Police

Baroness Louise Casey of Blackstock will lead an independent review into the Metropolitan Police’s culture and standards in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder, the force has announced.

The review will look into the current leadership of the force and its recruitment, vetting and training of officers.

Met Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, said: “The appointment of Baroness Casey to lead the independent review in to our culture and standards is an important step in our journey to rebuild public trust.

“Louise is extremely experienced and highly respected and I know will ask the difficult questions needed for this thorough review.”

An “urgent examination” is also under way into all current investigations of sexual and domestic abuse allegations against officers and staff, the Met said.

Officers from the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards will review each of these cases, including the individual’s vetting and conduct history.

A further examination will also consider similar cases from the last 10 years where those accused remain in the force.

Dame Cressida added that the review would make sure the “victim has been properly supported and that the investigation is suitably thorough”.

Ms Everard, 33, was raped and killed by Wayne Couzens, a then-serving policeman, who abducted her as she walked home in south London on 3 March.

Last week, Couzens was sentenced to life in prison. The Old Bailey heard how he used his police-issue handcuffs and warrant card to stage a fake arrest of the marketing executive.

The independent review is expected to take six months, with the findings and recommendations published so that the force can “improve and make sure the public have more confidence in us”, Dame Cressida said, adding: “This will build a stronger Met [and] ensure lasting improvement our service to London.”

Baroness Casey, a crossbench peer in the House of Lords as well as an independent adviser on social welfare and former government official, said: “Trust is given to the police by our, the public’s, consent. So any acts that undermine that trust must be examined and fundamentally changed.

“This will no doubt be a difficult task but we owe it to the victims and families this has affected and the countless decent police officers this has brought into disrepute.”

The spotlight of the review will also be shone on the force’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command – which Couzens worked for – to look at whether there are any “specific issues” within the unit.

It later emerged the 48-year-old was known as “the rapist” by staff at the Civil Nuclear Constabulary because he made female colleagues feel so uncomfortable.

He had been accused of indecent exposure in Kent in 2015 and in London in the days before Ms Everard’s murder, but was allowed to continue working.

Earlier this week, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced a separate inquiry into the Everard case, to look into the “systematic failures” that allowed Ms Everard’s killer to be employed as a police officer.

Other probes are also being carried out by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC).

According to The Times, Ms Patel has set Dame Cressida three key targets to meet in order to keep her job: Statistics must show that serious violence and knife crime in London is falling; the Met must show evidence they are improving their response to violence against women and girls; and the force must co-operate with an independent inquiry into its failures that led to Couzens murdering Ms Everard.

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Meanwhile, police data for England and Wales forces has shown the Met has the lowest success rate for solving sexual and violent crime, with just one in 20 offences resulting in a charge, according to the Daily Telegraph.

IOPC director general Michael Lockwood said in two years the watchdog has seen 394 referrals where abuse of power for sexual gain by police officers was a factor. Of these, 106 were serious enough to warrant an investigation by the police watchdog.

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