All police forces in England and Wales will review allegations of violence against women and girls involving serving officers in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder.
Public trust in the police has been damaged after ex-Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens was jailed for using his position to stage a fake arrest of the 33-year-old, whom he kidnapped, raped and murdered in March.
Police chiefs have also been tasked with checking incidents of indecent exposure and reviewing the vetting process of staff as part of an action plan decided upon during a National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) meeting last week.
NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt told the PA news agency that police bosses were doing “everything that [they] can” to ensure that “the way [they] deal with violence against women and girls is as effective and as assertive as it can be”.
Last week, the Metropolitan Police announced it was carrying out an urgent examination of all ongoing sexual and domestic abuse allegations against officers and staff alongside its own independent review.
A further examination is also taking place which will consider similar cases from the last 10 years where those accused remain in the force.
Baroness Louise Casey of Blackstock will lead the independent review into the Metropolitan Police’s culture and standards, current leadership, and its recruitment, vetting and training of officers.
Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said Baroness Casey would ask “the difficult questions needed” to help the force on its “journey to rebuild public trust”.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has also launched an inquiry to look into the “systematic failures” that allowed Ms Everard’s killer to be employed as a police officer.
The NPCC review will make sure allegations against officers are being, or have been, properly investigated and will also check that information is being shared between forces if officers have moved jobs or have been arrested in a different area.
While the work is being co-ordinated by the NPCC, forces will conduct the individual reviews internally. No timeframe has yet been set for carrying out the checks and it is so far unclear whether the findings will be made public.
Mr Hewitt added: “But be under no illusion, these are immediate actions that we determined last week needed to be taken. This is not something that people are going to be sitting on and waiting.”
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The news comes as Deputy Chief Constable Maggie Blyth was appointed to lead the NPCC’s work on violence against women and girls and to co-ordinate police action across England and Wales.
Ms Blyth, who took up the role on Monday, is responsible for overseeing a new police strategy which will focus on how to prevent violence, target perpetrators and help victims get justice, while Mr Hewitt will continue to look at how the NPCC responds in the long term.
Earlier on Tuesday Met Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bas Javid acknowledged there is a “crisis” of confidence that women and girls have in policing in the wake of Ms Everard’s murder.
“We want women and girls particularly to feel safe in communities,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, adding: “There’s a lot of work to be done to rebuild that trust and give people the confidence to come forward.”
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