Hundreds of UK officers should never have been appointed, says police watchdog

Some officers failed to declare ‘big red flags’ such as links to criminals

Jonathan Kanengoni
Sunday 05 February 2023 21:27 GMT
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Some officers had been dishonest on their applications
Some officers had been dishonest on their applications (PA Wire)

Hundreds of people who joined the police in the last three years should not have been allowed in, a senior police official has said.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said many officers had failed to declare “big red flags” such as “prior convictions and links with criminals that are too close and not explained” as well as “not being entirely honest on their application”.

He told Sky News: “Anybody who has got any blemish on their record shouldn’t automatically be disbarred from being a police officer, that just wouldn’t be fair.

“But where there is a question, where there is doubt, there should be measures put in place to monitor these people to keep a close eye on them, and that just is not happening either.

Mr Parr said one in ten officers his team looked at should never have made it through vetting, adding that it was not a random sample but it “still adds up to hundreds of people who have joined the police in the last three years that we don’t think should have”.

He acknowledged that public trust in the police, and particularly the Metropolitan Police, is “at a low ebb” after violent crimes committed against women by serving officers such as Wayne Couzens and David Carrick.

Mr Parr said more needs to be done to rebuild that trust and the Met is in “special measures”, adding: “There is widespread recognition that there is an awful lot to be done.

David Carrick pleaded guilty to 49 offences, including 24 counts of rape, against 12 women between 2003 and 2020 (Metropolitan Police/PA)
David Carrick pleaded guilty to 49 offences, including 24 counts of rape, against 12 women between 2003 and 2020 (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

Following the revelation of details of Carrick’s crimes last month, the Home Office ordered a major review of the police disciplinary process to ensure officers who “are not fit to serve the public” and “fall short of the high standards expected” can be sacked.

Vetting procedures are also to be strengthened and all officers checked against national police databases.

Mr Carrick, who served with the Met for more than 20 years, admitted 49 criminal charges including 24 counts of rape.

There were complaints about his behaviour before he joined the force in 2001, then again as a probationer in 2002 and numerous times throughout his policing career until 2021.

He was suspended from duty in October 2021 when he was arrested for rape, and his pay was finally stopped in December 2022 when he admitted the majority of the criminal charges he faced.

Wayne Couzens was a serving Metropolitan Police officer when he kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard (Metropolitan Police/PA)
Wayne Couzens was a serving Metropolitan Police officer when he kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

Asked if rape has been “effectively decriminalised” because of a low percentage of reported offences ending in a conviction, Mr Parr said most, if not all, serving female police officers have had to endure sexual assault and inappropriate behaviour from fellow officers.

He added: “The culture of misogyny within policing is something that is there, it’s real and it has absolutely got to be dealt with.”

Sir Mark Rowley took over as Met Commissioner in September 2022 following the departure of Dame Cressida Dick, and Mr Parr said he believes the new leadership team has “smelt the coffee” and “understand that they can’t any longer write this off as a few bad apples”.

He added: “They’ve got a long way to go however.

“This is not something you’re going to turn around overnight, there are 42,000 people in the Met. And what they’ve got to get to is every one of those people behaving at all times in a way that the public has a right to expect.”

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