1. ITV Report

Police chief vows integrity after arrests

Ian Learmonth, the Chief Constable of the Kent Constabulary Photo: PA

A Chief Constable said officers who are found to fall short of high standards of integrity will be dealt with after five of his colleagues were arrested as part of an anti-corruption inquiry.

Ian Learmonth, of Kent Police, said any allegations will be scrutinised but that anyone detained is innocent until proven guilty.

Four men and a woman, detectives with the force, were questioned on suspicion of persuading suspects to admit to offences they had not committed to boost their unit's performance statistics, The Times said.

Meridian understands the claims involve a detective inspector, detective sergeant and three detective constables working in a group dealing with persistent offenders, and are said to focus on the handling of undetected crimes which are later labelled "taken into consideration".

The five were arrested in Maidstone on Monday over claims of "administrative irregularities in the way prisoners had been dealt with" and later freed on police bail, police said.

Mr Learmonth said today: "Any reports of wrong-doing or offences by officers are investigated thoroughly by Kent Police, in the same way as anyone else.

"Like everyone else, anyone arrested is innocent until proven guilty. Any allegations will be scrutinised and any officer falling short of the high standards of integrity and professionalism expected by the force and the public will be dealt with appropriately."

The case was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). A spokesman for the police watchdog said they were assessing it to determine their level of involvement.

The officers have been suspended pending further inquiries, said the Kent Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers.

Its chairman, Ian Pointon, said officers faced "enormous pressure" to meet performance targets and that failure to meet them can have a "detrimental effect on them personally".

He said the federation, which represents 3,500 men and women with Kent Police, were supporting the officers.

Mr Pointon said: "It would be wholly inappropriate for me to comment about the current investigation into the five officers.

"There is a process that must be gone through. They must not be subjected to a trial by media. We are supporting the officers.

"However, Kent Police has a performance culture that focuses too keenly on ticks in boxes. Targets are set for individuals, teams and the force as a whole.

"Officers feel under enormous pressure to reach those targets, particularly in relation to the rate of detected crime and crime reduction.

"That pressure is all pervading. Officers know that failure to reach those targets can have a detrimental effect on them personally.

"Since 2006 we have highlighted the negative impact of this pressurised performance culture, a culture that is more about quantity than quality. Sadly our legitimate concerns have all too often fallen on deaf ears."

Disclosure of the arrests comes on the day the public vote for the newly created role of police and crime commissioners, with many candidates vowing to drive down crime levels.