Angiolini Inquiry ‘an urgent call to action’, says NPCC chair

The chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) says the Angiolini Inquiry is an “urgent call to action”.

Mar 26, 2024
By Paul Jacques
Chief Constable Gavin Stephens

Responding to the recommendations in the Inquiry’s Part 1 Report, Chief Constable Gavin Stephens said: “The Angiolini Inquiry made for shocking and sombre reading, a view which I know is shared across policing.

“We must ensure there is nowhere to hide in policing for wrongdoers, that we lead a police service which the public, and especially women and girls, can trust to protect them and that we are uncompromising on the high standards our communities deserve.

“We have reviewed the findings and recommendations in detail and accept them all. We have a number of ongoing national improvement plans and we are assessing how these will be updated and added to in light of the Inquiry findings.

“Along with my colleagues and fellow police leaders we recognise this as an urgent call for action and we are committed to bringing lasting, impactful change for future generations.”

The Government said it has accepted all recommendations made by Angiolini inquiry and will “work with policing to implement them at pace”.

The Inquiry was commissioned to uncover the circumstances and failures that led to the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a police officer in 2021.

The report, published last month, highlighted significant opportunities that were missed by multiple police forces that could have stopped Wayne Couzens before his “heinous crime”, and called for an overhaul of police vetting and recruitment.

Recommendations made by independent Angiolini Inquiry Part 1 will be implemented.

Government will work at pace with policing partners to explore link between indecent exposure and an escalation in criminality.

Pledge builds on action already being taken to root out unfit officers, protect victims, and stop violence against women and girls.

The recommendations the Government has accepted are to:

  • Conduct a fundamental review of the way masturbatory indecent exposure is treated within the criminal justice system – working across the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, College of Policing and NPCC;
  • Commission research to establish if there is an evidence-based link between active masturbatory indecent exposure and subsequent contact offending – working with the College of Policing: and
  • Working with the NPCC, launch a public campaign to raise awareness that indecent exposure and sending unsolicited photographs of genitals amounts to criminality and boost victims’ confidence to report such crimes.

“This review and research will increase understanding around masturbatory indecent exposure as a precursor to further sexual conduct, preventing more of these crimes in the first place and better supporting victims,” said the Home Office.

The NPCC and College of Policing have at the same time committed to addressing the remaining recommendations in Lady Angiolini’s report concerning police culture and increasing the robustness of police vetting.

Home Secretary James Cleverly said: “Sarah’s murder was sickening and, tragically, avoidable. She was fundamentally failed by the institutions which were meant to keep her safe.

“Since her death, huge strides have already been taken to root out officers not fit to wear the badge and bolster safeguards to prevent the wrong people joining the force.

“Now we will work with policing partners to understand the link between indecent exposure and an escalation in behaviour to ensure the right measures are in place to catch more criminals, earlier.”

Minister for Victims and Safeguarding, Laura Farris added: “Sarah Everard’s murder shocked the nation, devastated her loved ones and has profound implications for the future of policing. The Angiolini Inquiry comprehensively reviewed the facts and circumstances that contributed to Wayne Couzens’ offending and we are grateful to her for her work.

“We have already made a series of significant changes to police vetting, disciplinary and dismissal procedures.  But we accept her further recommendations on non-contact offences and the escalatory risk that they may pose.

“We are determined to leave no stone unturned in preventing an offence of this kind from ever happening again.”

College of Policing chief executive officer, Chief Constable Andy Marsh, said: “The tragic loss of Sarah Everard continues to weigh heavily on everyone in policing. The heinous act committed by a former police officer tarnished our profession and brought shame upon us all.

“We acknowledge and accept in full the thorough recommendations of Part 1 of the Angiolini Inquiry.

“The College of Policing is implementing some of the most robust standards in the history of policing and will continue to enforce stringent police vetting standards.

“We’re currently consulting on revoking vetting privileges for forces that fail to meet our criteria, and robust new guidance and training will support forces to get this right.

“I welcome the review into how indecent exposure is handled across the criminal justice system, and the college stands ready to use our skills to support research into the link between non-contact offences such as indecent exposure and an escalation in behaviour.”

He added: “The college has an unwavering dedication to rooting out unfit individuals from policing, restoring the public’s trust and confidence, and preventing anything like this from ever happening again.”

Since 2021, the Government said it has already taken several steps to root out officers unfit to protect the country; bolster safeguards to prevent the wrong people joining the force; and more broadly, to prioritise tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG).

This includes the largest ever integrity screening of all serving officers and staff conducted by the NPCC, and strengthening the requirements on officer vetting.

Last month, the Government set out further changes to the police disciplinary system which will mean that any officer charged with an indictable offence will be automatically suspended from duty until an outcome is reached, alongside legislation that will make it easier to sack officers who fail to hold basic vetting when re-checked, as well as anyone found guilty of gross misconduct.

The Home Office has also provided funding towards a new VAWG Policing taskforce – implementing a new police strategy for improving the response to domestic abuse, rape, sexual offences and stalking. As part of this, a national policing role was created to help transform and co-ordinate the police response nationwide, taken up by Deputy Chief Constable Maggie Blyth.

“We have classified violence against women and girls as a national threat, meaning the police must prioritise their response to it, just as they do with threats like terrorism,” said the Home Office.

“We expect that all sexual offending, including for cases where there is no contact such as indecent exposure, is taken very seriously by the police. It is paramount for victims to have the confidence to report these offences, knowing they will get the support they need and that everything will be done to bring offenders to justice.”

The Government said it will follow up with further detail on how the recommendations will be delivered in partnership with the College of Policing and NPCC in due course.

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