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Our comment on the Angiolini Inquiry Part 1 Report


If you have been affected by this news story, or the topics they refer to, please know that you are not alone. Support is available, and you can talk to us.

Today our hearts go out to Sarah Everard, her family and friends and all victims and survivors of rape and male violence after the release of Part 1 of the Angiolini Inquiry.

We welcome this incredibly thorough report which looks at how inadequate policies, procedures and responses enabled Wayne Couzens' offending against women and girls to go unnoticed for so long . We also welcome the report’s 16 recommendations and hope they are urgently implemented to effect meaningful long-term change.

We are dismayed at the inadequate vetting procedures, repeatedly missed red flags, and inaction that contributed to this horrendous abuse of power. Police-perpetrated sexual violence and abuse has been enabled by systemic failures which have, in turn, emboldened individuals who were not fit to be officers, to misuse their positions of power.

Opportunities to identify Couzens as a serious risk to the public were repeatedly missed. The Inquiry reveals a long history of offending, dating back almost 30 years, and demonstrates how victims who reported Couzens’ offending were not taken seriously by the police – the report painfully highlights the "apathy and disinterest" of officers who were alerted to Couzens' offending.

We know this is not exclusive to cases concerning police perpetrators - every day, victims and survivors of sexual violence and abuse struggle to have their cases properly investigated. It is crucial that when survivors make the decision to report to the police, they are taken seriously by officers and their report is investigated properly.

The Inquiry also concluded that this case demonstrates that an increase in the frequency of sexual offending can be extremely serious and must be treated as such. Sexual offending often consists of a pattern of escalating incidents, and it rarely occurs in isolation to other harmful behaviours and crimes. We know, from the research carried out by Operation Soteria academics with police forces, that perpetrators often offend multiple times. In the case of Couzens, there was a failure to see repeated cases of indecent exposure as sexually predatory and sexually violent behaviour. We welcome the report’s recommendations concerning indecent exposure, along with the ongoing international academic research into the link between this offence and contact offending.

Although the Inquiry recognises the work underway to address police perpetrated violence, there are numerous examples in the Inquiry that are indicative of rape culture and the unacceptable excusing of misogynistic, sexist, and racist behaviours within policing culture – a culture that enables perpetrators to abuse their power and commit horrific crimes undetected.

We must see urgent and radical change in the institutional policies, cultures and ways of working, to ensure that those responsible for protecting women and girls not only do not harm them, but actively protect them. We will continue our work to influence criminal justice institutions to create this desperately needed change.

And we will continue to fight for our vision: for a world without sexual violence where all women and girls live safely, freely and with dignity.