Officers failed to identify him

It seems the police had plenty of hints about Wayne Couzens but didn’t act on them.

The Guardian understands that an investigation into Couzens’s phone, which was seized after he was arrested for the attack on Everard, revealed he was part of a WhatsApp group involving police officers now under investigation over alleged misogynistic, racist and homophobic messages, sources say.

New details of previous indecent exposure claims against Couzens emerged on Thursday. A man was accused of being naked from the waist down in a car in Kent in 2015, and of twice exposing himself at a London McDonald’s days before the murder, with details of cars linked to Couzens in both instances passed to police.

A simple registration plate check, available to police on systems belonging to the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency, could have linked Couzens to alleged offending, but officers failed to identify him, the Met assistant commissioner Nick Ephgrave confirmed, and no action was taken before Everard’s murder.

The thing about that is, it’s easy to say they should have acted now that we know what he did, but it wouldn’t have been that easy before he did it. It’s hard to remember to adjust for that “they didn’t know then” piece of the story. I had to keep nudging myself as I read, to remember that they didn’t know what he was going to do before he did it, so the pants off wasn’t the Obvious Flag then that it is now. But that’s not to say it isn’t a damn good reason to do something about the pants off cop. Do we want sex creep guys as cops? No. Laurie Penny would say just don’t look, but that’s not adequate.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct is investigating whether chances were missed by Kent in 2015 and the Met days before the murder of Everard, to identify Couzens as a threat to women.

The victims commissioner for England and Wales, Dame Vera Baird, told the Guardian that chances had been missed. “He was accused of flashing when he was in Kent and nothing came of that and three days before he murdered Sarah, he was accused of flashing again,” she said.

“Where was the red flag that should have gone up after these incidents? Surely better notice should have been taken of that. There should have been an intervention. If he were arrested for that, the chances are he wouldn’t have been able to do what he did.”

Well, the police have an awful lot of transphobia to worry about these days, it keeps them busy.

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