A UK police officer has been arrested on suspicion of kidnap and murder by detectives investigating the disappearance of a young woman, Sarah Everard, who vanished into thin air moments after speaking to her boyfriend on her mobile phone.
Scotland Yard have confirmed he was a diplomatic protection officer, based at Westminster, and they said: "His primary role was uniformed patrol duties of diplomatic premises."
They also said he had also been arrested over a separate allegation of indecent exposure.
Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin said: "This is a significant development in our inquiry. This is a fast moving investigation and we are doing everything we can to find Sarah."
— Jamie Klingler (@jamieklingler) March 9, 2021
The man is a serving officer with the Metropolitan Police and Scotland Yard have confirmed he was not on duty when Sarah disappeared.
Unconfirmed reports in The Sun named him as Wayne Couzens and said his brother David was also a police officer.
Police are now searching two sites in Kent - land near Great Chart Golf and Leisure in Ashford and a house in Deal.
Latest on missing Sarah Everard: Police are in #Deal searching the home and garden of arrested armed officer Wayne Couzens, 48. Teams are also scouring land around the abandoned Great Chart leisure complex 30 miles from his home. He remains in custody...https://t.co/ApmG1IVxOZ pic.twitter.com/wwYTR1p6k8— KentOnline (@Kent_Online) March 10, 2021
A woman has also been arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender. Both are being questioned at a London police station and the Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards has been informed.
The Met has also referred the case to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
Sarah's uncle Nicholas told the Mail Online on Wednesday, 10 March: “It’s shocking and very upsetting. We were not expecting a development like this and it’s difficult to make sense of it. I found out that a police officer had been arrested through the media last night. I spoke to my to my brother straight away and he was as shocked as me.”
— Stuart Edwards (@StuartEdwards) March 9, 2021
Sarah left her friend’s home in Clapham at 9pm on 3 March and was due to walk home, across Clapham Common, on her own. She is believed to have talked to her boyfriend, Josh Lowth, for 15 minutes and disappeared soon after their conversation.
She never arrived home and detectives have searched Clapham Common and surrounding streets looking for her.
Police officers investigating the disappearance of Sarah Everard in Brixton have arrested a serving police officer in Kent in connection with her disappearance. His car has been removed from the driveway and tent forensic is outside his house #streetnews pic.twitter.com/HTSYHCD1ZU— Music/StreetNews (@ScarcityStudios) March 10, 2021
Detectives knocked on the doors of 750 homes along Sarah’s route and appealed to people to check their CCTV cameras and doorbell surveillance apps.
On Tuesday, 9 March, Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said: "The arrest this evening is a serious and significant development. We will continue to work with all speed on this investigation but the fact that the arrested man is a serving Metropolitan Police officer is both shocking and deeply disturbing."
"I understand there will be significant public concern but it is essential that the investigative team are given the time and space to continue their work,” he added.