LONDON – The London Metropolitan Police on Monday announced an independent review of its culture and standards following damaging revelations about police behavior during the sentencing hearing last week for the officer who killed a 33-year-old woman on her way home at night.
The review comes after several high-profile events over the past year, including the murder of woman Sarah Everard, reignited scrutiny of the UK police service and justice system.
The conviction of Ms Everard’s assailant, Wayne Couzens, a police officer at the time, and the revelation that he used the authority of his post to commit the crime, outraged critics who say police and Courts have not done enough for male violence against women.
They cite prosecutors’ repeated failures to punish domestic abusers and systemic missteps in handling complaints from victims of sexual assault and rape, and they accuse police of failing to manage a culture of misogyny within the force. .
“We depend on the trust of the public,” said Cressida Dick, chief of the Metropolitan Police, as she announced the review on Monday. “In this country policing is done by consent, and without a doubt Sarah’s murder and other events have damaged public confidence.”
Ms Dick said the review would be led by a “leading independent person” and would examine the internal culture, professional standards, systems and leadership training within the force.
Watch groups had pushed for a public inquiry into the police department’s approach to violence against women and the behavior of its officers, and new calls were made last week for Ms Dick resigns. But she said she would not resign from her role.
“I am absolutely determined to restore public confidence as quickly as possible”, Ms Dick told the BBC.
At Mr Couzens’ sentencing hearing last week, poignant new details emerged about how he used his position of authority and his police gear to falsely arrest Ms Everard ahead of her kidnap, rape and kill her. Police forces have also been criticized for failing to respond to previous allegations of sexual misconduct against Mr Couzens.
The announcement of the independent review came shortly after a London police officer was arrested and charged with rape on Sunday.
Police in Hertfordshire, an area in north London, identified the officer as David Carrick, 46, and said the alleged attack took place in September 2020. He was not on duty in that area at the time of the alleged attack, according to a statement. of the London Metropolitan Police Service.
Mr. Carrick was assigned to the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command of the Metropolitan Police, the same unit in which Mr. Couzens worked. The unit, made up of hundreds of officers, is responsible for protecting the Houses of Parliament and foreign embassies, and it provides agents to protect government ministers.
He was suspended from his duties as an officer, the statement said, and a referral was made to an independent office that monitors police conduct. Mr Carrick, who appeared by video in a local magistrate’s court on Monday, will be held in custody until a hearing on November 1.
Ms Dick said in a statement that she was “deeply concerned” by the news of Mr Carrick’s arrest.
“I fully recognize that the public will also be very worried,” she added.
Police last week released a series of safety tips for women if they encountered an agent or person posing as such, whom they saw as a threat. Advice included asking the “search” officer questions, going to a nearby house, or reporting a bus.
The notice was accompanied by a list of other steps police had taken or were considering taking following Ms Everard’s murder, but many critics said they had done little to address the failures. internal police officers to keep their accounts and fight violence against women more broadly.
During Mr Couzens’ conviction, prosecutors revealed he used his handcuffs and other police equipment and knowledge to kidnap Ms Everard on the pretext that she was being arrested for violating Covid lockdown restrictions -19.
Last week, the Metropolitan Police also admitted that there had been missteps in verifying Mr Couzens before he joined the force.