Priti Patel Announces Inquiry Into Murder Of Sarah Everard

The home secretary said the public had a "right to know" how Wayne Couzens was allowed to continue serving as a police officer.
Priti Patel said she would launch a domestic abuse strategy later this year to help tackle violence against women and girls.
Priti Patel said she would launch a domestic abuse strategy later this year to help tackle violence against women and girls.
PAUL ELLIS via Getty Images

Home secretary Priti Patel has announced there will be an independent inquiry into the murder of Sarah Everard.

Patel said the killing of Everard by Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens exposed “unimaginable failures in policing” and that the public had a “right to know” how he was able to serve in the force.

The home secretary also revealed a series of tough measures against “so-called eco-warriors” following the actions of Insulate Britain, whose activists have blocked and glued themselves to major roads over the past few weeks.

Patel began her speech to Tory party conference by paying tribute to Everard, who was kidnapped and then murdered by Couzens under the guise of an arrest.

Last week he was given a whole life sentence for her murder.

The Metropolitan police and its commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, have faced heavy criticism for their response to her murder and for not acting quickly enough over previous reports of indecent exposure by Couzens.

Announcing the inquiry, Patel said: “It is abhorrent that a serving police officer was able to abuse his position of power, authority and trust to commit such a horrific crimes.

“The public have a right to know what systematic failures enabled his continued employment as a police officer.

“We need answers as to why this was allowed to happen.

“I can confirm today there will be an inquiry to give the independent oversight needed, to ensure something like this can never happen again.”

Patel said she would also launch a domestic abuse strategy later in the year to help tackle violence against women and girls.

In a speech that played to the Tories’ “tough on crime” image, Patel also announced that she would increase the maximum penalties for disrupting a motorway and criminalise interference with key infrastructure such as roads, railways and the press.

Courts will also be given new powers to stop such activists attending demonstrations.

She accused groups like Insulate Britain, who want the government to insulate all homes by 2030, of “trampling over our way of life and draining police resources”.

“Their actions over recent weeks have amounted to some of the most self-defeating ‘environmental’ protests this country has ever seen,” she said.

On Monday their tactics drew criticism after one woman struggled to accompany her 81-year-old mother to hospital because the group had blocked the Blackwall tunnel.

The home secretary also used her speech to address the ongoing migrant crisis in the English Channel, saying the government was “going after” the criminals smuggling people into the UK.

Patel has been locked in confrontation with France over the issue and has been seeking to send boats destined for the UK back into French waters - something France has warned could endanger lives.

“France is a safe country, one not riven by war or conflict,” she said.

“There is no reason why any asylum seeker should come to the United Kingdom directly from France.

“I make no apology for securing our borders and exploring all possible options to save lives by ending these horrific journeys.”

Following the speech, Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “Labour has been calling for a full independent inquiry for days, yet the prime minister refused to support one.

“Now the home secretary has half-heartedly announced one, but not put it on a robust, statutory footing to ensure there are no barriers in the way to getting answers.

“When parliament next sits, the home secretary must bring forward legislation that should toughen laws on street harassment, increase sentences for rape and stalking, fast-track rape and serious sexual violence cases through the courts, and enshrine the rights of victims in a victims’ law.

“Action is needed urgently and the government has the power to do something about it.”