Police feel 'more let down than anybody' about Sarah Everard murder, claims minister

By Gareth Davies
Damian Hinds, pictured in 2019 - David Rose for The Telegraph
Damian Hinds, pictured in 2019 - David Rose for The Telegraph

The police feel "more let down than anybody" about the murder of Sarah Everard, a Home Office minister has claimed. 

Wayne Couzens, a serving Met Police officer, is serving a whole life term for the kidnap, rape and murder of the 33-year-old marketing executive after he was sentenced at the Old Bailey last month. 

Miss Everard's family spoke in court about the devastation of their loss, but Damian Hinds told Times Radio: "I think everybody is shaken by this terrible case. 

"It is also really important to take a moment once again to pay tribute to all the men and women who serve in our policing service who feel more let down than anybody by this terrible sequence of events.

"They put themselves in danger day after day and in protection of the rest of us and they deserve our support."

His comments come just days after reports that nearly 2,000 police officers have been accused of sexual misconduct in the last four years.

Mr Hinds told LBC: "Yes of course it is a shocking figure and it is important that there is process to go through in those cases, and an accusation must be followed by looking into it properly and in some cases there will be full procedures."

Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, who has come under huge pressure to resign in the aftermath of the sentencing, last week announced there would be an independent review of the force's culture. 

And Mr Hinds said: "It is actually more important even for them than for anyone else that this inquiry gets to the bottom of this."

He added: "This case goes to the heart of that question of trust."

Ex-Assistant Commissioner at the Met, Sir Mark Rowley, refused to criticise his former force's handling of the Everard case but conceded there were behavioural issues within policing.

He told Sky News: "Unless you're in the middle of it, you don't see all the facts. I do think they're looking forward. 

"What this case and the follow up, reporting and evidence has illustrated is - there is a cultural issue in some corners of policing. 

"Most of policing is not behaving badly. It's not misogynistic, but there is a cultural issue in some corners of policing which police leaders are going to have to work harder at rooting out."

Asked if he thought the reputation of the Met had been damaged by Miss Everard's murder - especially surrounding women's voices being heard from within the force - Sir Mark said: "I think you're overstating it. I mean, there's a woman Commissioner, there's a lot of women as part of her leadership team. 

"So, I don't think this is a sort of simple issue that the police like it was in the 70s or 80s because simply, that is definitely, definitely not true.

"Police deal with their most difficult moments, and the standards of behaviour, need to be the best possible. And clearly, that is not always the case. 

"And so, chasing perfection is absolutely critical. As every organisation needs to do news may be perfect so there's been asked recently about the BBC and pay etc, but all big organisations, I think, are wrestling with this, but I think for the police it's most critical that they lead the way. 

"Because they're dealing with vulnerable people and clearly sometimes they're letting them down dramatically."


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