The UK’s Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) announced in a statement Friday that five police officers will face misconduct proceedings following investigations into social media messaging.
The investigations come in response to the Sarah Everand case. Everand was raped and murdered by a former police officer, Wayne Couzens, who received life imprisonment this month. The aftermath has created deep controversy in the trust the public can have with the police force.
The investigation by the Metropolitan Police Service in March 2021 found that a probationary constable had used WhatsApp to share graphic images of violence against women. The severity was highlighted by the IOPC, stating that if leaked into the public sphere could “potentially interfere with the course of justice.” Both the actions of sharing the graphic images and the omission in failing to report it have been found to constitute misconduct.
In breach of police standards, those involved could face a written warning or be charged with gross misconduct in more severe cases. The office is continuing to look at misogynistic culture in the police force through recruitment and training, in addition to looking at how the police force dealt with ‘indecent exposure’ linked to Couzens in 2015. The risk of such exposure in the police force risk “undermining public confidence in policing,” and therefore, greater deterrence and punishment have been called for by the public and IOPC alike.