A Met officer and Kent Police sergeant face misconduct hearings over mishandling reports of indecent exposure against Wayne Couzens over two years ago. A third officer was under investigation by the independent office for police conduct (IOPC), who “found they had no case to answer.”
Couzens, convicted rapist and murderer of Sarah Everard, pleaded guilty on Monday to indecent exposure offences from November 2020 and February 2021, a few days before he abducted Ms Everard. The latter offence occurred at a fast-food restaurant where he exposed his genitalia to staff.
The IOPC conducted investigations and released the findings. The first investigation resulted in a Met constable facing gross misconduct allegations. It looked into whether proper procedure was followed in CCTV footage gathering, vehicle checks and evidence collection. When Ms Everard was kidnapped, the investigation over the indecent exposure allegation had not yet identified Couzens as a police officer. Had he been identified, and procedure followed correctly, he might have been suspended in the immediate period before Ms Everard’s abduction.
The Kent officer facing misconduct hearings resigned in 2022. The IOPC stated the hearing will go ahead “as soon as possible” despite the officer’s resignation. The BBC asked the Met, IOPC, and Home Office whether the officer is employed in another police force, but were not provided with any more information.
The investigation into the officer’s conduct extended back to 2015 for failure to follow “all reasonable lines of inquiry” where a man exposed himself to a pedestrian, in a vehicle “identified as belonging to Couzens”, the IOPC said. Couzens was not identified as a police officer or spoken to by the police.
The Angiolini inquiry looking at Ms Everard’s abduction and murder will also consider the indecent exposure incidents, and their handling, as part of the analysis of whether any opportunities to prevent the abduction were overlooked. ‘The awful truth now appears to be that Couzens was following a path of escalating sexual violence. And that is why these offences are so important in establishing whether Couzens could have been stopped,’ reported the BBC.