A Metropolitan Police officer, who was involved in the search operation to find Sarah Everard, has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) for sharing an “inappropriate graphic” with colleagues.
The probationary police constable is accused of sharing the content via an undisclosed social media app.
In a statement, the force said its directorate of professional standards was made of aware of the incident after “a number of officers” who received the graphic reported being “concerned by its content”.
The PC was an acting cordon officer supporting the search operation in Kent to find missing Everard, whose body was later found in woodland near Ashford.
But the officer has now been removed from these duties, and placed in a non-public facing role, while enquiries continue, the Met said.
The graphic does not contain photographic images, nor does it include images of Sarah or any other material obtained from or related to the investigation into her murder.
The force said that, owing to the “content of the officer’s duties at the time”, a voluntary referral had been made to the IOPC.
The family of 33-year-old Everard, who went missing on 3 March while walking home from a friend’s house in southwest London, have been made aware of the incident.
Wayne Couzens, a serving Met officer, appeared in court over the weekend, charged with Everard’s kidnap and murder.
Vigils were held across the country on Saturday to honour Everard’s life, after her death prompted a national outpouring of experiences from women who have been abused, stalked, or suffered violence at the hands of men.
The event turned sour, though, when police attempted to break it up over coronavirus concerns and were filmed physically removing women from the bandstand where flowers had been laid out for the marketing executive.
It sparked a protest the following day, on Sunday, which saw hundreds of people descend on central London to demand greater protections for girls and women – particularly from the police, who many in attendance said they do not feel safe around anymore.
Chants of “f*** the police” and “I am Sarah” could be heard outside New Scotland Yard, as officers stood in front of the building and faced a barrage of questions and angry heckles.
Speaking about this latest twist in Everard’s devastating case, the Met’s assistant commissioner, Nick Ephgrave, said on Monday: “The MPS expects its officers to behave professionally at all times and this includes how they use social media.
“I take allegations that any officer or officers have failed to observe these standards very seriously and have referred this matter to the IOPC.”