The former Whitehall troubleshooter Louise Casey has been brought in by the Metropolitan police to root out misogyny and lax standards, as it battles to dig itself out of a crisis caused by its mishandling of the Wayne Couzens scandal.
Lady Casey has been appointed by the Met commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, to lead the review which came after harrowing details of the rape, kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard by Couzens while a police officer were made public.
Dick has accepted the case has dealt a hammer blow to public trust after it was revealed Couzens used his police warrant card to stop Everard, his training and powers to trick her into a car, his handcuffs to restrain her, and then his police belt to strangle her.
The Met then stoked extra anger on itself by suggesting people, especially women, nervous that an officer stopping them was a threat, could flag down a bus.
The review will examine issues including vetting, recruitment, leadership, and training in Britain’s biggest force, which has left ministers concerned as it lurches from regular crisis to crisis.
Couzens, who was an armed officer in parliament and diplomatic protection command, was last Thursday sentenced to a rare whole-life sentence because his crimes and abuse of power were deemed so serious.
The Met also announced a “root and branch” review of the parliament and diplomatic protection command, focusing on recruitment, vetting, culture, professional standards and supervision.
Dick announced the review on Monday, only for the home secretary, Priti Patel, the next day to announce the government was launching its own inquiry. The Met’s handling of the fallout from the Couzens case has tested the patience of the two people responsible for appointing the commissioner, namely the home secretary and London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan.
The Met is trying to demonstrate it can reform to try to regain public confidence. It also announced a review to ensure investigations into claims of sexual and domestic abuse allegations against Metropolitan police service officers and staff.
The force also said it still had officers and staff in its ranks who faced claims of sexual misconduct and domestic abuse allegations over the last decade, and will now examine some of those cases.
Casey has been called in by Labour and Conservative governments to tackle issues such as antisocial behaviour, troubled families, integration and victims’ rights.
She is brusquer than the normal Whitehall insider and in 2013 Casey told the Guardian in an interview: “The Daily Mail don’t like me ’cos I’m female and fat and lefty. Other people on the left think I sleep with the devil.”
The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, welcomed the news that Casey would lead the review and said: “Public trust in our police has been severely damaged and requires urgent rebuilding.”
Dick said of her appointment: “We recognise the grave levels of public concern following the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard and other deeply troubling incidents and allegations. I have said that we know a precious bond has been broken.”
Casey said: “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.
“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.”
Everard, 33, was seized by Couzens as she walked home in south London in March 2021.
The review by Casey is expected to take six months and the Met said it would be made public.
The government is still to announce the terms of reference for its inquiry and who will lead it.