POLICE say they are "shocked and disturbed" by the actions of a serving officer who raped and murdered Sarah Everard before burning her body.

Sussex Police issued a statement following the 33-year-old's "horrific" murder at the hands of the Wayne Couzens, who was working for the Met at the time.

A top police officer spoke out after the "vile criminal" was given a whole life sentence last week - and pledged to help rebuild trust with the public.

Assistant Chief Constable Jayne Dando said: "We have all been left shocked and disturbed by the actions of ex-police officer Wayne Couzens."

The Argus: Assistant Chief Constable Jayne Dando, lead for local policing.Assistant Chief Constable Jayne Dando, lead for local policing.

"First and foremost, our thoughts remain with the courageous family of Sarah Everard, whose happy life has so tragically been cut short.

"Couzens is a vile criminal and his actions horrific. He does not reflect the values of the police service, nor the majority of police officers and staff, who dedicate their lives to helping and protecting the public, including women and girls."

She said the police recognise and accept that this case will have a "profound impact on public trust and confidence in the police, particularly with women" - and that Sussex police are "committed" to rebuilding this trust and will "continuing to improve" its services.

The force plans to work with partners "to prevent and tackle violence against women and girls and to target the perpetrators".

The Argus: Wayne Couzens, an acting officer, raped and murdered Sarah Everard in March, sparking protests across the country.Wayne Couzens, an acting officer, raped and murdered Sarah Everard in March, sparking protests across the country.

ACC Dando added: “We have a strong partnership of agencies and charities in Sussex working together on this and to address the root causes of gender inequality, which cannot be addressed by police alone.

“Policing is a reflection of the society we serve, we are committed to eradicating misogyny and inequality and playing our part in addressing these societal issues.”

The force also have a range of initiatives including stalking and domestic abuse perpetrator programmes, new enhanced safeguarding processes for victims, and a new specialist local resolution team which is trained to deal with domestic abuse cases.

Katy Bourne, police and crime commissioner for Sussex, added: “Following the events of recent days, I know that Sussex Police officers and staff are totally committed to ensuring that the public have complete confidence and trust in their local police force to protect and help them.

“Together with Sussex Police, my office is working on projects to tackle male violence against women and girls and I hope this work will go some way towards restoring their perception of safety on the streets of Sussex.”

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