UK police forces have been asked to check all officers and staff against national police databases to identify suspected misogynistic predators who have “slipped through the net” in the wake of the David Carrick rape case, the Home Office has said.
The home secretary, Suella Braverman, 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.
The moves follows criticisms of the government’s response after Carrick was formally sacked on Tuesday after pleading guilty to 49 charges including dozens of rapes.
Labour and some Conservative MPs called for the government to go further in pursuing police officers who had failed to report Carrick, and to introduce policies which clamped down on misogyny within the force.
On Wednesday, the chair of the home affairs select committee, Diana Johnson, led calls for the police to be described as “institutionally sexist” after a series of policy failings around rape, sexual abuse and domestic violence.
In a statement, 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.”
Carrick, known to colleagues as “Bastard Dave”, humiliated his victims, branded them “slaves” and locked some in a cupboard under the stairs for hours without food. The Met apologised on Monday after it emerged that Carrick had been brought to the attention of police over nine incidents including allegations of rape, domestic violence and harassment between 2000 and 2021.
A police watchdog has been criticised by MPs after refusing to acknowledge that the UK’s forces were institutionally sexist following the Carrick revelations.
Andy Cooke, the chief inspector of constabulary and fire and rescue services, declined several invitations to endorse the phrase from Johnson. “Undoubtedly there are significant issues with policing culture. But misogyny is a societal issue not just a policing issue,” Cooke said.
Johnson interrupted him: “But that’s no excuse, Mr Cooke …”
He told her he was only making the point that policing needed to be held to higher standards due to the powers they had.
Johnson asked him: “Do you think the police service is institutionally sexist?”
Cooke replied: “No I don’t. If we look at the fact we now have more female police officers than before.”
James Daly, a Conservative committee member, said he agreed with Johnson’s assessment and questioned why the rape charge rate was so low.
“Some of your answers here today appear to be not an impartial assessment of the police but actually a defence of police,” he said. “The major issue regarding matters getting to court is that police officers are not referring allegations of rape to the CPS. We have a charge-out rate of 1.5%. In my view, I’ve looked for all sorts of reasons for this. There has to be an attitude of misogyny in the police force that is allowing all of these cases not to be prosecuted.
“Let’s be blunt about it, not all of those cases are people lying or not telling the truth it is because police are taking a deliberate attitude to female victims of crimes,” Daly said.
Cooke told him he was not being defensive and that not enough officers were being prosecuted. “This isn’t about my independence or not. This is about a very complex issue that policing are doing the best – in my view – to improve. It is not happening quickly enough.”
The home office minister Robert Jenrick has said the government backs efforts by the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, to strip Carrick of his pension. He told Sky News: “The forfeiture of the pension is a matter for the mayor of London but we support his efforts to remove that pension, if indeed that is what he chooses to do.”
Speaking at prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, Rishi Sunak told MPs that Carrick’s crimes were a “truly sickening” abuse of power and promised police reforms so offenders would have “no place to hide”.
Sunak will meet the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, later on Wednesday, the Home Office said.