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After Sarah Everard killing- how many men work with their own Wayne Couzens?


I was stretched out on the sofa watching TV, with my 13-year-old daughter beside me, when my phone pinged with a news alert. It was the victim impact statement of Susan Everard, the mother of murdered Sarah Everard.

If you’ve read Mrs Everard’s heart-breaking, powerful, eloquent statement, you’ll understand how I spent the next few minutes fighting back tears and hugging my own daughter that little bit more fiercely.

“Speaking as a father of young girls… a teenage daughter of my own… when you have a daughter you…”

How many columns – and tweets and Facebook posts – launched off with these words last week? It is lowering, the idea that you must have a daughter in order to truly comprehend and condemn what happened to Sarah Everard.

You only need to read her mother’s statement in order to do that.

But what do you tell your daughter? You want to tell her the usual things. Things like “this is really rare”, that it “doesn’t happen very often”. And then you realise that on the very same day Everard’s murderer was sentenced to a whole life term, another man appeared in court charged with the predatory murder of primary school teacher Sabina Nessa last month.

You read the papers and realise that, in a little more than six months since Everard’s death, at least 78 other women have been killed in the UK.

You learn that 12 police officers are being investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct over matters relating to Everard’s murderer, police officer Wayne Couzens. (One officer shared an “inappropriate graphic” with others over social media before manning the cordon at the search for Everard’s remains.) You learn that Couzens had been reported on more than one occasion for indecent exposure, including an incident just days before Everard’s disappearance.

Former Met chief super Parm Sandhu said in an interview last week that female officers didn’t always report this kind of behaviour by male colleagues because they might “close ranks” against them.

Maybe if this culture didn’t exist, then someone might have spoken out about these things. About the fact that Couzens had already earned the appalling nickname “Rapey Wayne”. And it is “police officer” Wayne Couzens. Not “former police officer”, despite what some would like to think.

A senior investigator on the case, former DCI Simon Harding, said police officers “do not view” Couzens as a police officer and he “should never have been near a uniform”.

Well, the second part of that statement is undoubtedly true. As for the first part, no matter what the police would like to think, Couzens was a police officer. And not only was he tolerated, he was enabled.

And he was enabled right to the end: could there be anything more chilling for the family – for women – to hear than the judge saying that some of the murderers’ former colleagues had “spoken supportively

of him”? I found myself wondering how far Wayne had gone in front of his fellow officers. All the jokes that crossed the line. All the inappropriate comments.

All the pornographic clips he’d “jokingly” shown them on his mobile phone. “You know Wayne,” they’d say, chuckling and shaking their heads. “What’s he like? Old Rapey Wayne.”

How many men reading this work with a Wayne?

After Everard’s murder, there was the usual insulting litany of warnings to women. Not to go out alone. Not to go to deserted areas. Not to dress too provocatively. Not to get too drunk. Do we now have to add – don’t allow yourself to be detained by a police officer on his own?

I don’t know. It’s almost like women aren’t the problem here.

It’s Wayne.

It’s all the Waynes.




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