Exclusive: Couzens inquiry should be statutory, 60% of UK adults say in poll

Sienna Rodgers
© Vincenzo Lullo/Shutterstock.com

A clear majority of UK adults support making the Wayne Couzens inquiry – into the failings that led to him kidnapping, raping and murdering Sarah Everard while serving as a police officer – a statutory one, LabourList can reveal.

Exclusive polling by Savanta ComRes for LabourList shows that 60% of adults in the UK say the inquiry into the “systematic failures” should be statutory, just 14% say it should be non-statutory and 27% say they do not know.

Priti Patel announced at the Conservative Party conference that there would be an inquiry looking at both the behaviour of Couzens and issues in the police, such as vetting processes, but did not give the probe statutory powers.

In response to the news, Labour’s Nick Thomas-Symonds accused the Home Secretary of “half-heartedly” committing to an inquiry after Boris Johnson refused to support one, and of failing to “put it on a robust, statutory footing”.

A non-statutory inquiry would not be able to compel witnesses to testify, nor compel the Metropolitan Police to disclose documents in a timely manner. It would not have control over the timing and publication of its report either.

Labour peer Shami Chakrabarti, ex-director of Liberty and former Shadow Attorney General, has tabled two crucial amendments to the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill, which is currently with the House of Lords.

One of Chakrabarti’s changes to the Home Office-sponsored legislation would force Patel to order a full statutory inquiry to be held under the Inquiries Act 2005 within one month of the policing bill coming into force.

The other amendment proposed by the Labour peer would change the law so that a single police officer is not able to require someone under arrest to enter a car or police station unless at least one other constable is present.

The new Savanta ComRes poll commissioned by LabourList indicates that an overwhelming 67% support the idea to make the presence of two officers a legal requirement, while just 7% oppose the proposal and 8% say they do not know.

Below are the results of the latest polling by Savanta ComRes for LabourList.

The government has announced there will be an inquiry into the ‘systematic failures’ that allowed Wayne Couzens, the Metropolitan Police officer found guilty of murdering Sarah Everard, to continue to be a police officer. The inquiry will be non-statutory, which means that the chairperson of the inquiry does not have the legal power to compel witnesses to give evidence, and also means that the government has more say in how the inquiry is run. The government has said that the inquiry will be made statutory, if required.

Do you think that the inquiry should be statutory, or non-statutory?

Statutory – 60%
Non-statutory – 14%
Don’t know – 27%

To what extent do you support or oppose a change in the law so that it is a legal requirement for two, as opposed to one, police officers to be present before someone under arrest enters a police car or police station?

Strongly support – 39%
Somewhat support – 28%
Neither support nor oppose – 18%
Somewhat oppose – 5%
Strongly oppose – 3%
Don’t know – 8%

Sum: Support – 67%
Sum: Oppose – 7%

Polling by Savanta: ComRes for LabourList. Fieldwork conducted 8th-10th October 2021. Poll of 2,103 adults in the UK.

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