Wednesday 6 December 2023
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All police forces to vet all officers and ‘remove those not fit to serve’

A review to ensure that the police officer dismissal process is effective at removing those who are not fit to serve the public has been launched by the Home Office today (18 January 2022).

The government says it will do whatever it takes to root out misogyny and predatory behaviour from the ranks of the police.

In the wake of the appalling crimes committed by David Carrick and acknowledged failures within the Metropolitan Police that allowed such a despicable criminal to serve the public, the government – working with police chiefs across the country – is taking immediate action to ensure that the system is effective at removing officers who are simply not fit to wear the uniform.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council has confirmed that it will ask all police forces to check their officers and staff against national police databases. This will help identify anyone who has slipped through the net before vetting standards were toughened and ensure those who are unfit to serve can be rooted out.

The Home Secretary has also asked the College of Policing to strengthen the statutory code of practice for police vetting, making the obligations all forces must legally follow stricter and clearer. This will make a raft of guidance a legal requirement for all police forces.

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Home Secretary Suella Braverman said:

“David Carrick’s sickening crimes are a stain on the police and he should never have been allowed to remain as an officer for so long.

“We are taking immediate steps to ensure predatory individuals are not only rooted out of the force, but that vetting and standards are strengthened to ensure they cannot join the police in the first place.

“Every day thousands of decent, hardworking police officers perform their duties with the utmost professionalism and I am sure they all share my disgust at his despicable betrayal of everything they stand for

The government has also brought forward the second part of the Angiolini Inquiry, the terms of reference of which will be published today for consultation, to identify and address any systemic issues with policing. This will:

  • ask whether processes around recruitment and vetting do enough to identify those who are not fit to serve
  • investigate the extent to which misogynistic and predatory behaviour exists in police culture
  • look at whether current measures do enough to keep women safe in public spaces and manage risks posed by perpetrators

The Angiolini Inquiry was established in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard to understand how a serving police officer was able to carry out such a horrendous crime. The Home Secretary confirmed yesterday that Lady Angiolini will also look at the specifics surrounding the David Carrick case as part of her inquiry.

The government has also commissioned His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services to conduct a rapid review of all forces’ response to the inspectorate’s recent report into vetting and counter-corruption. This will make sure chief officers are taking the necessary action to remove those who are not fit to serve.

The Home Secretary has also launched an internal review into police dismissals to make sure the system is effective at removing officers who fall short of the standards expected of them.

The Prime Minister will meet with Met Commissioner Mark Rowley later on today to make clear we must work together to root out the misogyny and predatory behaviour within the police’s ranks to restore public confidence.

The internal review will look at the effectiveness of the disciplinary system so the public can be confident it is fair but efficient at removing officers who fall far short of the high standards expected of them.

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Baroness Casey’s interim report into the culture and standards at the Metropolitan Police Service, published last year, raised concerns about the low number of police officers being dismissed and that those with multiple allegations of misconduct against them are still serving the public. She was also concerned that officers from ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented in the misconduct system.

As set out in the terms of reference published on GOV.UK Police officer dismissals review: terms of reference, Home Office officials will examine the consistency of decision-making at misconduct hearings and disproportionality in dismissals, alongside reviewing the existing model of misconduct panels and the impact of legally qualified chairs (LQCs).

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The review, which will be completed within approximately four months, will also ensure that forces are able to effectively use regulations that allow probationary officers who do not meet the required standard to be let go, and look at whether the current three-tier performance system is effective in being able to dismiss officers who fail to perform the duties expected of their rank and role.

The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, said:

“The reputation of British policing has been severely damaged by the atrocious behaviour of police officers like David Carrick, and the public’s trust in our police has been shaken.

“Officers who fall short and are not fit to serve the public have no place in our police, and we must ensure they can be dismissed as swiftly as possible.

“I have been clear that culture and standards in policing must improve and they focus on common sense policing which the public rightly expects and deserves.

“This review will ensure that bureaucracy and unnecessary processes will not prevail over ethics and common sense.

“It will urgently identify reforms to the dismissals process so that we can enact change.
Policing stakeholders are also invited to submit evidence on the broader effectiveness of the disciplinary and performance systems for consideration outside of this review.

This is one part of the government’s work to tackle police culture and standards following recent high-profile events, including the appalling case of David Carrick, which has shattered public confidence in policing.

The government is clear that there is no place in our police forces for officers who fall seriously short of the acceptable standards of behaviour and are not fit to wear the uniform, and police forces must root out these officers to restore the public’s trust.

The government has introduced significant reforms to the police complaints and discipline systems in recent years – from misconduct hearings in public and independent legally qualified chairs (LQCs) to the introduction of the barred list and the strengthening of powers for the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

In addition, the Angiolini Inquiry is currently examining the issues raised by the conviction of then-serving officer Wayne Couzens for the murder of Sarah Everard last year, and the Home Secretary expects part 2 of this inquiry to examine police culture and vetting processes.

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