A former senior Metropolitan Police official has called for the urgent re-vetting of all serving police officers across the country in order to rebuild public trust and confidence in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder.
The remarks come after serving police officer Wayne Couzens — described as a “monster” by the home secretary Priti Patel — was handed a whole life sentence earlier this week for the kidnap, rape and murder of 33-year-old Ms Everard.
Ex-chief superintendent at the Met, Parm Sandhu, said she had “real, serious concerns” about the vetting procedures and suggested there were other individuals with “questionable backgrounds” who should be looked at.
The former official at the Met said “everybody” who now works in policing should be re-vetted. “Those people who got through the vetting procedure 20 years ago, 30 years ago, all of them,” she told Sky News.
“Every single person needs to be reviewed and if nothing comes up in their past — it doesn’t have to be a conviction, it just needs to come to notice, because this man did not come to notice.”
She added: “So every person should be re-vetted and reassessed as to whether or not they are safe to be working with members of the community and members of the public.
“It needs to be done now as an urgent measure to reassure the public and rebuild trust and confidence that policing has lost, but it needs to be done on a regular basis so that we don’t have anybody that even comes close to the actions of Wayne Couzens.”
Ms Sandhu also agreed that there should be an independent inquiry into the vetting procedures — just moments before Boris Johnson dodged questions on the issue in an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr.
Asked whether he would deliver the public inquiry demanded by Labour and by women’s rights campaigners, he pointed to the investigations already being carried out by the Met and the Independent Office for Police Conduct into issues around the case, including allegations that officers known to Couzens had shared offensive images.
He added: “We do need to look systemically, not just at the Wayne Couzens case, but at the whole handling of rape, domestic violence, sexual violence and female complaints about harassment all together. It is a phenomenon.”
Meanwhile, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has asked the Met for an urgent meeting after it emerged that Couzens worked on the Parliamentary Estate in 2020.
The Met Police had previously said Couzens moved to the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command in February 2020 where his primary role was to patrol diplomatic premises, mainly embassies.
On Saturday, a Met spokesman said: “Couzens was deployed to armed static protection duties on the Parliamentary Estate on five occasions from February to July 2020.”
Sir Lindsay said: “Like everyone, I have been sickened by the depravity of Wayne Couzens – and heartbroken for the family of Sarah Everard.
“The news that Couzens was deployed as an armed officer on the Parliamentary Estate is extremely concerning and raises a number of questions about police vetting procedures.
He added: “To that end, I have asked the Met Police to meet me urgently to discuss how this person could have been deemed suitable for deployment here. The security of members and staff has always been my number one priority, so I want to know how this man could ever have crossed the parliamentary threshold.”