Former government homelessness and troubled-families “tsar” Baroness Louise Casey has been named as the chair of a review into standards and culture in the Metropolitan Police, prompted by the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by serving officer Wayne Couzens.
Casey, who has been a director general in both the Home Office and the Department for Communities and Local Government, will also examine the effectiveness of the Met’s current leadership, recruitment, vetting, training, communications and other processes.
Couzens was handed a whole-life sentence at the Old Bailey last month. The court heard he had to use his handcuffs, warrant card and other police-issue equipment to wrongfully arrest Everard in south London on 3 March this year. She was never seen alive again.
Met commissioner Cressida Dick said the force recognised Everard’s abduction, rape and murder had prompted “grave levels of public concern” and also raised other “deeply troubling” incidents and allegations.
“The appointment of Baroness Casey to lead the independent review into our culture and standards is an important step in our journey to rebuild public trust,” she said.
“Louise is extremely experienced and highly respected and I know will ask the difficult questions needed for this thorough review. This will build a stronger Met, ensure lasting improvement our service to London and public confidence in us.
“I hope her appointment and the significant urgent actions we are taking will go some way to provide immediate and vital reassurance to Londoners.”
The Met pledged that Casey’s review and recommendations would be made public.
Casey, who stepped down as the government’s chief adviser on homelessness last year when she joined the House of Lords, said she expected the review to be hard for the Met but also an important step forward.
“Trust is given to the police by our, the public’s, consent. So any acts that undermine that trust must be examined and fundamentally changed,” she said.
“This will no doubt be a difficult task but we owe it to the victims and families this has affected and the countless decent police officers this has brought into disrepute.”
Former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott cautioned that it was “not credible” for one woman to wipe out misogyny in the Met.
She said a first credible step would be a statutory inquiry at which serving officers were legally compelled to give truthful evidence about Couzens.
Home secretary Priti Patel has also announced a second inquiry that will look at Couzens’ previous behaviour and will establish a definitive account of his conduct leading up to his conviction, as well as any opportunities missed. A chair and terms of reference for the probe are yet to be announced.