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

HM inspector of constabulary Matt Parr says entrants include those with links to criminality, and misogynists

Officers with prior convictions and close links with criminals are among hundreds who have joined the police in the last three years who should not have been allowed in, according to the head of the police watchdog.

HM inspector of constabulary Matt Parr also said that there was a real problem with misogyny within the police that had to be tackled, adding that most, if not all, serving female police officers had had to endure sexual assault and inappropriate behaviour from fellow officers. “The culture of misogyny within policing is something that is there, it’s real and it has absolutely got to be dealt with,” he said.

Parr said a review of hiring practices carried out by his team had uncovered dishonesty on applications for serving officers and “red flags” that had not been declared.

Parr said his team had looked at a random sample of officers and found that one in 10 should never had made it through vetting.

That “adds up to hundreds of people who have joined the police in the last three years that we don’t think should have”, he said.

Speaking to Sophie Ridge on Sky News on Sunday, he said it wasn’t fair that anyone with any “blemish” on their record was barred from policing, but there were not sufficient measures in place to monitor individuals who posed some risk.

“This is systemic across policing,” he said. “We’re always challenging the police as to what their priorities are, but I think the whole idea of just how important it is for policing that the wrong people don’t get in and the wrong people don’t stay in has not quite been recognised as being as important as it is.”

Parr said public trust in the police, and particularly the Metropolitan police, was “at a low ebb” after violent crimes committed against women by serving officers such as Wayne Couzens and David Carrick, who last month admitted 49 criminal charges including 24 counts of rape.

“In the past I’ve described [the Met] as complacent, arrogant, defensive, and I think there has been a reluctance to accept the scale of the problems,” he said. “It’s basic standards sometimes and it’s a culture across the Met, and perhaps wider policing as well, that isn’t where it ought to be.”

After Carrick’s prosecution last month, the Home Office ordered a review of police disciplinary processes 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.

Parr said the new Met commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, and his leadership team had “smelt the coffee” and “understand that they can’t any longer write this off as a few bad apples”.

“They’ve got a long way to go, however,” he said. “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.”


Alexandra Topping

The GuardianTramp

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