Thousands of police staff members not properly vetted

A BBC investigation has found that at least 2,515 police officers and staff are working in the UK without the required level of vetting, this accounts for roughly 1.5% of all police personnel and does not include the Metropolitan Police.

The College of Policing introduced national vetting guidelines in 2006 in an effort to ensure that all forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were checking recruits in a consistent way. In 2019, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) issued a deadline of July 2020 to all police forces to ensure that they had retrospectively vetted all officers and staff to the standard of the 2006 guidelines, regardless of how long they have been serving. Freedom of Information requests revealed that more than 25% of police forces have still not met this deadline.

The guidelines from the College of Policing involve background checks analysing past convictions, financial problems which may leave applicants open to bribery or corruption, and research of the applicants friends, family and associates.

Former Inspector of Constabulary Zoe Billingham, commented on the findings:

"We know that policing attracts predators, a very tiny number, so of all of the professions and all public services, policing really does have to have the state of the art tightest vetting processes and procedures in place…It [retrospective vetting] needs to be completely nailed down now so that all officers, all staff, and volunteers working in policing have the right checks and safeguards in place.”

Sir Tom Winsor, Chief Inspector of Constabulary, spoke in July this year about the importance of thorough vetting procedures in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder:

“Vetting is of enormous importance. It is important that people who want to come into the police are properly assessed, not in terms of just the intellectual and physical capacity, but their attitude, inclinations and their motivation. If recruits, during their two year probationary period, are displaying tendencies towards rage, violence, a liking for the exercise of coercive control of their fellow citizens, that needs to be recognised and properly dealt with.”

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