London Police Should Not Have Hired Officer Who Killed Woman, Inquiry Finds

An inquiry published Thursday into the murder of a young woman three years ago by a London police officer — a case that rattled Britain and set off a broader reckoning in the country about violence against women — has found that the police force missed signs of a troubling past that should have prevented him from being hired.

The woman, Sarah Everard, 33, was abducted, raped and murdered in March 2021 by Wayne Couzens, a member of London’s Metropolitan Police Service. Mr. Couzens was later sentenced to life in prison for the killing.

Ms. Everard’s murder cast a spotlight on how bad behavior and violence against women had been allowed to thrive within the country’s police ranks, prompting soul-searching and demands to improve the processes of hiring and overseeing officers.

“It is time for all those in policing to do everything they can to improve standards of recruitment, vetting and investigation,” Elish Angiolini, a lawyer who led the inquiry, said at a news conference. “Wayne Couzens was never fit to be a police officer. Police leaders need to be sure there isn’t another Couzens operating in plain sight.”

The inquiry found that Mr. Couzens’ initial vetting when he applied to join the Metropolitan Police Service in 2018 had been deeply flawed, missing available information, including on troubling incidents when he served in another police force in Kent, in southeast England. The information was overlooked when Mr. Couzens applied to work in London in 2018 and again when he applied for a specialized firearms role the next year, the inquiry found.

Earlier reports included a concerning use of pornography, an indecent exposure allegation that was never acted upon by the authorities and an incident, which the inquiry did not detail, in which he was reported missing from his home.

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