Sarah Everard: Five police officers facing disciplinary action over messages shared

·2-min read
Philip Allott had said Sarah Everard should not have ‘submitted’ to arrest by her killer, who was a serving policeman (family handout/PA) (PA Media)
Philip Allott had said Sarah Everard should not have ‘submitted’ to arrest by her killer, who was a serving policeman (family handout/PA) (PA Media)

Five police officers from four police forces are facing disciplinary action over messages shared on social media about Sarah Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens, the police watchdog said.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said two officers from the Metropolitan Police and one from each of the forces in Sussex, Dorset, and Avon and Somerset will be subject to misconduct proceedings.

Met Police officer Wayne Couzens is serving a whole-life sentence after kidnapping, raping and murdering 33-year-old Ms Everard earlier this year.

A Met Police constable, who went on to staff a cordon as part of the search for Ms Everard, was investigated over allegations they used WhatsApp “to share with colleagues an inappropriate graphic, depicting violence against women” while off-duty. The message was described as “highly offensive”.

Meanwhile, another PC still on probation faces misconduct proceedings for “allegedly sharing the graphic and failing to challenge it”.

A third Met officer was found not to have a case to answer despite the IOPC’s probe finding that “while they thought the graphic was inappropriate, rather than reporting it the image was forwarded to two people seeking their advice on how to deal with the situation”.

Sarah Everard was murdered in March (PA)
Sarah Everard was murdered in March (PA)

In a second investigation, the IOPC looked into allegations seven officers from other forces breached standards by using the encrypted messaging app Signal to share information on Couzens’ prosecution.

An officer from Dorset Police will face a gross misconduct hearing after being accused of posting details of the interview Couzens gave under caution – several months before the killer admitted to her murder and before the information could be made public.

The investigation indicated officers from other forces had “joined in the conversation, endorsing comments made by others and making unprofessional remarks about Couzens”, the watchdog added. As a result, an officer from Avon and Somerset Constabulary will face a misconduct meeting.

IOPC regional director Sal Naseem said: “In April this year we warned about the unacceptable use of social media by officers based on a number of cases involving the posting of offensive and inappropriate material.

“We wrote to the National Police Chiefs Council, asking them to remind forces and officers of their obligations under the police Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Behaviour.

“The allegations involved in these two investigations, if proven, have the capacity to further undermine public confidence in policing.

“They also once more illustrate the potential consequences for officers and come at a time when policing standards and culture have never been more firmly in the spotlight.”

The Metropolitan Police has been contacted for comment.

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