Mon. Aug 8th, 2022

Nearly a third of police forces in England and Wales referred allegations of sexual assault and harassment against their own officers to the police watchdog in the days following the delivery of Wayne Couzens for the murder of Sarah Everard, Observer can reveal.

The Independent Police Conduct Office (IOPC) received 27 detailed referrals involving officers and serious sexual offenses the week after Couzens was sentenced on Sept. 30 to life in prison for kidnapping, raping and murdering Everard while he was a civil servant.

The allegations involve 14 forces in England and Wales and will again raise questions about a woman with misogyny, predator behavior and poor professional standards in policing.

The guard said the number of referrals was a “significant increase” from previous weeks, although it is unclear whether cases are new or already sitting on the forces’ books and only went on after furore over the Everard case, which led to calls for police reform and several measures to combat violence against women.

The IOPC is investigating five officials and Couzens for allegedly distributing shared “discriminatory” messages – including misogynistic content – that were discovered during Everard’s murder investigation.

On Friday, a Nottinghamshire Police Officer was fired following a watchdog investigation after sending sexual messages to a vulnerable woman he had stopped for a possible driving offense.

Days earlier, another officer was fired from Dover Police after entering into an inappropriate relationship with a woman – again considered vulnerable – whom he had met through his duties.

Claire Bassett, deputy director general of the IOPC, which investigates 43 forces and others such as the Department of Defense Police and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, praised all those who had come forward to testify against serving police officers.

“It takes incredible strength and courage to report any sexual assault, but it’s even harder when the alleged perpetrator is a police officer,” she said.

“Those who disregard the oath they took to protect and serve can expect the criminal justice system to treat them differently from any other criminal.”

She said that if anyone had previously reported a sexual offense or abuse of power against an officer, but felt that their problem was being swept under the rug, they should file a complaint with the watchdog as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Sophie Linden, London’s Deputy Mayor for Police and Crime, said it was crucial to make it easier for officers to call colleagues’ behavior. “Met has a program to support people who want to stand out as a whistleblower, and that’s important. That work really needs to be intensified, ”she said.

Louise Casey
Louise Casey has been brought in by the Met to eradicate lax standards. Photo: Antonio Olmos / the observer

On Friday, it was announced that former Whitehall troubleshooter Louise Casey had been picked up by Metropolitan Police for eradicating misogyny and escaped default as it attempts to restore a breakdown in trust caused by its mismanagement of the Couzens case.

Details have since emerged of how London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Home Secretary Priti Patel crossed political boundaries to help the force announce a review of professional standards and the internal culture of the force.

Last Saturday, two days after the sentencing of Couzens, City Hall sources said Observer how Khan grilled Met Commissioner Cressida Dick about the mess the force was in and told her that an independent review should happen quickly.

The following day, news came that a Met officer from the same unit as Couzens had been arrested for rape, which received a phone call late at night between Khan and Patel, who agreed that something big should be announced.

That led directly to Tuesday’s announcement by Patel of an investigation into “systematic errors” that allowed Couzens to continue being a police officer.

The source added that Casey’s appointment to lead the review of the Met’s internal culture was quickly agreed by all parties.

“We thought Casey was a good choice, someone with good credentials who could hold people accountable, and that was felt by all parties,” they added. Meanwhile, reports suggest that a proposal from BT for a service to protect women traveling alone has secured support from Patel and could be launched before Christmas.

But within hours, campaigners and Labor figures criticized the government-backed proposal as “a sticky plaster solution” that fundamentally misunderstands the issue of violence against women.

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