Vetting failures allowed criminals, sex offenders to join UK police, report finds

Report found culture of sexism, predatory behavior is prevalent in many police forces.

Vetting failures allowed criminals, sex offenders to join UK police, report finds

Criminals and sex offenders have been allowed to join and stay in the police due to failings in the vetting system, a report found.

The report was commissioned by former Home Secretary Priti Patel following the murder of Sarah Everard by police officer Wayne Couzens, who was a serving police officer in London’s Met Police at the time of his crime.

Compiled by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire & Rescue Services, the report said that a culture of sexism and predatory behavior is prevalent in many police forces.

Matt Parr, the chief inspector of constabulary, said that if previous recommendations regarding the vetting process had been implemented, there would have been a “clearly reduced” chance of Couzens joining the police.

Of the 725 vetting cases the review examined from eight police forces, including the Met, there were 131 cases where the decision was “questionable at best.”

“We found officers and staff with criminal records, or suspicions that they had committed crime (including some serious crime), substantial undischarged debt, or family members linked to organised crime,” the report said.

“In other cases, officers and staff had given false or incomplete information to the vetting unit. We also found officers who, despite a history of attracting complaints or allegations of misconduct, successfully transferred between police forces. This is wholly unsatisfactory.”

One individual passed his vetting despite indecent exposure to the same woman seven times over a two-week period as a juvenile.

The report also said that while it was “essential” and “noble” to increase diversity, this should not be used to reduce standards.

On the vetting process, Parr continued: “There can’t be many organisations that employ people without meeting them face to face.”

“I am not sure they were obliged to do it even during the pandemic and they certainly shouldn’t be doing it now. There are even cases that we found where there was a marginal vetting decision and they had taken someone even without interview. That is wrong.”

Female officers in the report also described the sexism in the police, including male colleagues watching pornography at work, and pestering female colleagues for sex at social events.

Others were allowed to join the police despite links with organized crime, including sometimes family members.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “It is no secret that recent high-profile incidents have shattered the public’s trust in policing and His Majesty’s Inspectorate’s report shines a stark light on some police vetting practices, which make it too easy for the wrong people to enter and remain in policing.

“Chief Constables must learn these lessons and act on the findings of this report as a matter of urgency. At its best, policing in this country is an example to the world and we need to make sure this standard is consistently met across all forces.”