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Sarah Everard inquiry will examine her killer’s behaviour and if ‘red flags’ were missed

An inquiry into Sarah Everard’s murder by a serving police officer will inform the government on what policing issues need to be addressed and how the protection of women should be considered.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has revealed the terms of reference for the first phase of the inquiry investigating how serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens was able to abduct, rape, and murder the 33-year-old marketing executive as she walked home in South London in March last year.

The first phase of the inquiry will begin “shortly”, the Home Office said, and it is intended to finish this year “to ensure the Everard family get the answers they need”.

It will look at:

• A timeline of Couzens’ career and relevant incidents, including prior allegations of criminal behaviour and/or misconduct

• The circumstances and decision-making relating to his vetting and re-vetting, including whether any potential risks and/or red flags were missed

• Any other relevant matters arising from his transfers between forces

• His overall conduct – including non-disciplinary matters, his performance and training

• The extent to which any issues relating to his behaviour, particularly in relation to women, were known and raised by colleagues, (including professional standards and senior leaders)

• Any abuse of his police powers.

Ms Patel will use the findings of part one to consider what further, broader issues for policing need to be addressed as well as the protection of women that should be considered in the second part of the inquiry.

In November, Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini QC, who previously led a review into police custody deaths in England and police investigations in Scotland, was appointed to chair the inquiry following consultation with Ms Everard’s family.

The Home Office said the inquiry will analyse documentation from police forces Couzens was linked to, including the Met Police, Civil Nuclear Constabulary and Kent Police, look at interviews and witness statements and also findings from investigations by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Part one will be non-statutory so it can be established and carried out “as swiftly and flexibly as possible” to give Ms Everard’s family answers quickly.

But Dame Elish will be able to convert it to a statutory inquiry if she needs to fulfil the terms of reference set out on Monday.

The Home Secretary said: “I am determined to understand the failings that enabled a serving officer to commit such heinous crimes – we owe an explanation to Sarah’s family and loved ones, and we need to do all in our power to prevent something like this from ever happening again.

“The terms of reference agreed today for the Angiolini Inquiry are vital and will produce learning and recommendations for policing and others.

“I have assured Dame Elish she has my full support to ensure this inquiry gets the answers the public and the Everard family need as soon as possible.”

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