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Wayne Couzens: Five police officers investigated for misconduct over ‘offensive’ messages about Sarah Everard’s death

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Five police officers from different forces could be sacked over social media messages relating to Wayne Couzens.

Some officers shared “high offensive” graphics on Whatsapp which referred the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard.

This follows two separate investigations by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IPOC), the independent body which manages complaints against police forces.

Two officers from the and one from each of the forces in Sussex, Dorset and Avon and Somerset will be subject to misconduct proceedings.

Read more: Plain-clothes police to video call uniformed officer when stopping lone women

Wayne Couzens ‘falsely arrested’ Sarah Everard as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, claiming she was breaking Covid-19 guidelines

The first investigation found that a probationary constable used WhatsApp to share with colleagues an inappropriate graphic, depicting violence against women and it referenced the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard.

The IOPC established that the officer was off duty at the time but went on to staff a cordon as part of the search for Ms Everard.

The graphic, which the IPOC described as “highly offensive”, was challenged by colleagues and reported internally.

However, another constable will face misconduct proceedings as, after receiving the graphic, rather than reporting it, they shared the image with more people.

IOPC regional director Sal Naseem said: “The allegations involved in these two investigations, if proven, have the capacity to further undermine public confidence in policing.

“They also once more illustrate the potential consequences for officers and come at a time when policing standards and culture have never been more firmly in the spotlight.”

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Sarah Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by Wayne Couzens on the evening of March 3

A separate, second investigation looked into seven officers from several forces who used encrypted messaging system called ‘Signal’ to communicate details of the Sarah Everard and Wayne Couzens case, weeks before Couzens had pleaded guilty.

It was alleged that on March 13, an officer from Dorset Police posted details of an interview given by Couzens under caution that was presented during a non-reportable court hearing, which might have “interfered with the course of justice” had the details been released to the public.

Officers from other forces had joined in the conversation, endorsing comments made by others and making unprofessional remarks about Couzens – specifically one officer from Sussex Police who was cleared of the charges and one from Avon and Somerset Constabulary who will face misconduct proceedings in due course.

The investigation found no case to answer for a further four officers who were members of the chat group.

Other ongoing investigations are looking at how Kent Police in 2015 and the Met in 2021 handled allegations of indecent exposure now linked to Couzens.

Both investigations are considering whether policies and procedures were followed, and if any issues identified may have impacted the vetting of the former officer who is now serving a life sentence for his crimes.

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https://www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/wayne-couzens-five-police-officers-21939450