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A new documentary about disgraced police office Wayne Couzens highlights how hundreds of police officers and staff were accused of violence against women and girls in the months after he was sentenced.

Couzens was sentenced in September 2021 to life in prison after he kidnapped and killed Sarah Everard when she was walking home in London in March 2021.

Wayne Couzens kidnapped Sarah Everard in 2021.
Pixabay

Sarah's death sparked widespread protests and calls for a reform of the Metropolitan Police, but with complaints continuing to flood in after Couzens' sentencing, it's clear change has not happened quickly enough.

In the six months between October 2021 and March 2022, data published by the National Police Chiefs Council showed more than 1,500 police officers and staff members faced complaints about their treatment of women.

More than 650 conduct cases relating to violence against women and girls were brought against against 672 individuals by police forces in England and Wales, and 524 complaints were made by members of the public against 867 officers and staff.

The complaints related to a number of issues, including sexual harassment, discreditable conduct not in the execution of their duty, and sexual assault.

Wayne Couzens has been sentenced to life in prison.
PA Wire/PA Images

Of the 1,500 people, less than one percent were fired.

Wayne Couzens: Killer in Plain Sight focuses on the issue of sexual violence in the police, relying on interviews from experts, former officers, survivors of police abuse and those who knew Couzens to highlight the red flags that went unnoticed or ignored.

One clip from the documentary, set to air on Channel 5 tonight (15 June), sees survivors sharing their stories.

One person recalls: "He would say to me, 'I am the power', and he would show me his gun."

The film features 'fresh evidence', asking 'why, and how, so many violent predators managed to slip through the net to be given power that they could ultimately abuse'.

Deputy Chief Constable Maggie Blyth, National Police Chiefs’ Council Coordinator for Violence Against Women and Girls, stressed when the data was released in March that Police Chiefs had been focused on 'identifying wrongdoing' in police ranks over the previous 18 months.

The documentary features interviews with survivors.
Channel 5

“The vast majority of officers and staff are professional and committed but I know it is shocking to hear about any potential predators in policing and that this can further shake fragile trust," she said.

“It’s important to be clear, data released [in March] is intended to be a critical baseline for assessing police performance over time...

“Over the past 18 months, Police Chiefs have focused on identifying wrongdoing in police ranks, strengthening misconduct investigations and toughening sanctions.

"My expectation is that the impact of those changes will be evident when we publish our next assessment – with more women having the confidence to report concerns, more investigations underway, more cases closed and more sanctions and dismissals.”

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, you can contact Victim Support free on 08 08 16 89 111 available 24/7, every day of the year, including Christmas.

Featured Image Credit: PA Wire/PA Images / Channel 5

Topics: Crime, UK News, TV And Film