Sarah Everard murder must lead to full review into police violence against women, Yorkshire MP Yvette Cooper demands

An independent investigation must be launched into police violence against women, the former shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper demanded on Thursday after the killer of York woman Sarah Everard was handed a whole-life sentence.

Sarah Everard, originally from York, died in March after being subjected to rape, kidnap and strangulation by Met police officer Wayne Couzens. Photo: family handout

Wayne Couzens, a Metropolitan Police officer, will die in jail after he was sentenced for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Ms Everard, 33, who went missing in March from her walk home in Clapham, south London.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said she recognised "the precious bond of trust has been damaged" after the death of Ms Everard, and that “there are no words that can express the fury and overwhelming sadness that we all feel about what happened to Sarah.”

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But Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper said Couzens’ ability to lure Ms Everard into his car and commit his crimes by using his police warrant card to falsely arrest her “reflects deep failure in policing.”

She said: “The details of what happened to Sarah Everard are truly devastating.

“In passing this sentence, the judge has recognised both the depravity of the crime and the gravity of the implications for public confidence in policing.

“It reflects deep failures in policing that Wayne Couzens was allowed to serve as a police officer, and it is even more shocking that a man like this was ever approved to carry firearms.

“Police forces must not try to dismiss this as a one-off, as the system clearly completely failed to stop him or to root him out at a much earlier stage when it should have done so.

“The Home Office must now ensure that there is urgent action, including a full independent investigation into violence against women and girls within the police service itself, looking not just at this terrible case, but more widely at allegations and cases of domestic abuse, harassment, and sexual offences, including lower-level offences involving police officers and staff.”

“Many women across the country have spoken about their deep lack of confidence in the police and criminal justice system.

“Police forces and the Home Office need to recognise how serious the damage to confidence is and could become if they don’t act to address these problems now.”

Cressida Dick faced calls to resign yesterday led by Labour MP Harriet Harman, who has asked Home Secretary Priti Patel to take urgent action to "rebuild the shattered confidence of women in the police service", and has told the Metropolitan Police Commissioner she needs to step aside to "enable these changes to be taken through".

In a letter to Dame Cressida, the MP for Camberwell and Peckham, who is also mother of the House of Commons and chairman of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, said: "Women need to be confident that the police are there to make them safe, not to put them at risk. Women need to be able to trust the police, not to fear them.

In a second letter to Ms Patel discussing the crimes of Wayne Couzens, she said: "It is clear that there had been all too many warning signs about him which had been swept under the carpet. It cannot be rebuilt with the attempt to reassure that this was just, as the Metropolitan Police Commissioner said, one 'bad'un'.”

Speaking at the Home Office, Priti Patel said: “There are questions, serious questions that need to be answered by the Metropolitan Police … from the very day that Sarah went missing, I have been, clearly, in contact with the Metropolitan Police and putting forward some questions around the conduct of the potential suspect at the time and all the requirements and checks that should have been put in place.”

When asked if Dame Cressida should resign, she said: “I will continue to work with the Metropolitan Police and the commissioner to hold them to account as everybody would expect me to do, and I will continue to do that.”

Describing Couzens as a “monster” and the case as “sickening” and an “appalling tragedy”, Ms Patel said: “It is right that he has been given a whole-life tariff and with that he can never walk the streets of our country again.”