The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has said Sarah Everard’s murder has brought “shame” on the force, admitting: “A precious form of trust has been damaged.”
The firearms officer, who joined the Met in 2018, was sacked by the force after he pleaded guilty to 33-year-old marketing executive Ms Everard’s kidnap, rape and murder.
Dame Cressida, Britain’s most senior police officer, described his crimes as “one of the most dreadful events in the 190-year history” of the Met.
“This man has brought shame on the Met.
“Speaking frankly, as an organisation we have been rocked,” she said.
“I absolutely know that there are those who feel that trust in us is shaken.
“I recognise that for some people, a precious form of trust has been damaged.”
The court heard how Couzens used the pretext of Covid-19 lockdown regulations to falsely arrest Ms Everard, using his police warrant card, handcuffs and belt in her abduction and murder.
“This hearing has revealed the brutality of this man’s crimes against Sarah,” said Dame Cressida.
“I am absolutely horrified, that this man used his position of trust to deceive and coerce Sarah, and I know you all are too.
“These actions were a gross betrayal of everything policing stands for.
“What he did was unthinkable and appalling.
“He showed himself to be the coward he is through his lies and seeking to minimise his true responsibility for his crimes.
“Police officers are here to protect people, to be trustworthy, courageous, and compassionate.
“His every action is the exact opposite of that.
“As the judge said, he has eroded the confidence that the public are entitled to have in the police.
“It is critical that every subject in this country can trust police officers when they encounter them.
“The judge went on to say, he has very considerably added to the sense of insecurity that many have living in our cities, perhaps particularly women.”
Dame Cressida, who attended court on both days of the sentencing hearing, said she was “absolutely sickened” and that her thoughts are with Ms Everard’s family, friends and loved ones.
“He will now spend the rest of his life in prison.
“I hope that will give them some slight comfort,” she said of Couzens.
The commissioner praised those involved in bringing Couzens to justice in an investigation by Lord Justice Fulford as the “most impressive” he has seen in his 30 years sitting as a judge.
“I saw for myself, first-hand, their extraordinary determination and professionalism,” she said.
“This is the Metropolitan Police Service I know.
“It is capable and caring, it is full of people who are good, who work all their lives to protect others.”
Dame Cressida said her force’s dedication to the public remained “undiminished”, adding: “As commissioner, I will do everything in my power to ensure we learn any lessons.
“I know that what happened to Sarah and what has happened to other women in London and beyond in recent times has raised important questions about women’s safety.
“Here in the Met, I commit to keep working with others to improve women’s safety and reduce the fear of violence.
“There are no words that can fully express the fury and overwhelming sadness we all feel about what happened.
“I am so sorry.”
National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt said: “The sentencing of Sarah Everard’s murderer cannot remove the pain and suffering of her family or loved ones.
“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are firstly with them.
“Policing has been rocked by this tragedy and the thought that a serving officer abused his position and turned against everything we are here to do is truly sickening.
“This man has betrayed everything we stand for and deeply shaken public trust.
“With the Met police and across policing, we must rebuild that trust and do all we can to make our streets safe for women and girls.”