Priti Patel vows police vetting processes will get ‘thorough review’ after Sarah Everard's murder

Priti Patel at Thames Valley Police in Reading promises ‘thorough review’ of police vetting
Home Secretary Priti Patel during a visit to Thames Valley Police Training Centre in Reading. Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Priti Patel has promised to conduct a “thorough review” of police vetting after serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens murdered Sarah Everard.

The force has come under fire in a series of cases in recent years.

Couzens has lodged an appeal against his whole-life prison tariff for abducting, raping and killing Ms Everard, 33.

Pc Adam Zaman, also from the Met, is also facing a rape charge, which he has denied.

Speaking at the Thames Valley Police Training Centre in Reading, the Home Secretary told recruits hiring more women is “important” for the future of police culture.

More than half of the 20,000 police officers the Government pledged to recruit by 2023 have been hired.

When asked how the Home Office will ensure that another Couzens does not slip through the net amid the fast-paced hiring process, Ms Patel said: “It’s right that we do all the checks and obviously our recruitment programme is absolutely doing all of that.”

She added: “I have commissioned Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Police and Fire Rescue Services to provide a thorough, thorough review.

An appeal against Couzens' whole life sentence was submitted, it was confirmed in October. Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

“And that will feed into my wider inquiry that I have announced.

“I’ve been very clear we’ll be making the terms of reference on that clear in due course because there’s a lot of work that’s taking place specifically in light of what’s happened.”

When asked whether she hoped hiring female officers would change the culture of policing, she said: “I think it’s important.

“I am very clear about this. The profile of our police – I feel very, very strongly that as we recruit 20,000 more police officers, we have 42% here in Thames Valley are women.

“We police by consent in the United Kingdom, it is important that our police officers represent the communities that they serve and that’s why more women, absolutely.”

The overall provisional headcount of officers in England and Wales is now 139,908, according to Home Office figures to the end of September.

This includes 11,053 hired as part of the 20,000 pledge, a quarterly report on the progress of the scheme said, suggesting forces have recruited 55% of the total target.

The Home Secretary was speaking to recruits at the Reading training centre to mark the hiring milestone.