Police Must Answer How Sarah Everard’s Killer “Slipped Through The Net” Says Keir Starmer
Keir Starmer said questions must be answered by police after a serving officer killed Sarah Everard (Alamy)
Labour leader Keir Starmer says the Metropolitan police must answer the “critical question” of how warning signs over Sarah Everard’s killer, a serving officer, were missed.
He was speaking ahead of the sentencing of Wayne Couzens later today. The 48-year-old former Metropolitan police officer pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of the 33-year-old, who was kidnapped from the street in London earlier this year.
Starmer said it is essential to establish how the killer was able to "slip through the net”, with the Met facing serious questions about how accusations against him of indecent exposure – one just three days before Everard’s disappearance – were apparently overlooked.
“There were obviously warning signs, so how did he get through?” Starmer told LBC.
"I know that thousands upon thousands of police officers doing a fantastic job are absolutely sickened by this.
"How on earth did he get through the net is the critical question that has got to be answered.”
At a hearing yesterday details emerged of how Everard's killer had used his police-issued handcuffs and warrant card to lure Everard into his car in Clapham in March.
Asked on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme if more now needs to be done to "police the police", the opposition leader, a former director of public prosecutions, replied: “Absolutely, and that's got to be reviewed, we've got to get to the bottom of how that happened.
“It looks as though there were some tell-tale signs that was evidence the issues that should have been looked into properly, and they weren't.
“It is vital that a review is done, but there then needs to be wider reform, because I've been arguing for a victim's law for years, since I was Director of Public Prosecutions.”
He added: “We have codes, we have support – we have nothing in law that is there to support victims.”
During his speech to Labour party conference yesterday, Starmer discussed bringing in tougher sentencing for perpetrators of sexual assault.
This morning he reiterated to the Today programme that he believed an “equally big if not bigger issue is that nine out of 10 cases never get to court”.
Starmer said women “do not have enough confidence to come forward into the criminal justice system in the first place”, and need more support to do so.
Conservative minister Simon Clarke said "no system can guard against” what Everard's killer did, calling it “monstrous and beyond anyone's ability to really have foreseen”.
But he accepted that there are still lessons to be learnt. "I know the Metropolitan Police will look at it very seriously," he told Sky News.
Clarke, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, added: "It's an appalling story and something that has genuinely shocked all of us, I'm roughly Sarah's age.
"It is one of those ones that will remain with us for a generation. It is so important to emphasise that Wayne Couzens, who is a monster, does not represent the work of all those tens of thousands of police men and women who go about every day to keep us safe.”
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe