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Sarah Everard.
Inquiry

Priti Patel announces inquiry into ‘systematic failures’ after Sarah Everard murder

Priti Patel was speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.

AN INDEPENDENT INQUIRY will be launched into the “systematic failures” that allowed Sarah Everard’s killer to be employed as a police officer, the UK Home Secretary has announced.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, Priti Patel said the public needs answers to ensure “something like this can never happen again” after Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens kidnapped, raped and murdered the 33-year-old marketing executive.

She said: “The public have a right to know what systematic failures enabled his continued employment as a police officer.

“We need answers as to why this was allowed to happen.

“I can confirm today there will be an inquiry, to give the independent oversight needed, to ensure something like this can never happen again.”

Patel claimed she has “redoubled” her efforts to help make women and girls feel safer, telling the conference in Manchester today: “All our thoughts remain with Sarah Everard’s family and friends.

“Her murderer, whose name I will not repeat, was a monster. His explicit intention was to instil fear and terror in women and girls.

“I say this as Home Secretary, but also as a woman – such unconscionable crimes and acts of violence against women and girls have no place in our society.

“That is why I have redoubled my efforts to ensure women and girls feel safer.”

The Home Office said the inquiry will be made up of two parts – first examining Couzens’ previous behaviour and establishing a “definitive account of his conduct leading up to his conviction, as well as any opportunities missed, drawing on the Independent Office for Police Conduct’s (IOPC) investigations, once concluded.”

The second will look at any specific problems raised by the first part of the inquiry, which could include wider issues across policing – such as vetting practices, professional standards and discipline, and workplace behaviour.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said the inquiry must leave “no stone unturned” and must “also address reports of widespread cultural issues”, adding: “We must stamp out misogyny, sexism, racism and homophobia, root out those who abuse their trusted position as officers, and ensure that tackling violence against women and girls is treated with the highest priority.”

Labour’s Yvette Cooper, the chairwoman of the Commons Home Affairs committee, said the inquiry was “very welcome” and it was “important that it looks more widely at handling of allegations of violence against women and girls by police officers and staff. Real concerns that these are not dealt with properly – vital that they are in order to ensure women’s safety and rebuild trust.”

Patel will also commission another inspection of vetting and anti-corruption procedures in policing in England and Wales to be carried out by the watchdog Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

This will also look at how forces detect and deal with “misogynistic and predatory behaviour”.

Initial findings are expected by the end of this year in order to inform the inquiry.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is launching a taskforce led by the Home Secretary to see action taken across government to tackle violence against women and girls, which will meet for the first time in the autumn.

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