All police forces asked to check officers against database in wake of David Carrick rape case
More than 1,000 Metropolitan Police officers and staff are having their cases of abuse allegations reviewed, ITV News' Rebecca Barry reports
All police forces will be asked to check their officers against national police databases in the wake of the David Carrick rape case.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council says this will help identify anyone who has "slipped through the net" before vetting standards were toughened and ensure "those who are unfit to serve can be rooted out."
It comes after serving Metropolitan Police officer David Carrick, who was unmasked as one of the UK’s worst sex offenders, was officially sacked from the force on Tuesday.
The 48-year-old was found to have committed gross misconduct after admitting 49 criminal charges, including 24 counts of rape against 12 women over an 18-year period.
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 abuse of power that we have seen this week is absolutely despicable,' the PM said
In a statement, she said Carrick's "sickening crimes" were a "stain on the police".
“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,” Ms Braverman said in a statement.
“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.”
National Police Chiefs' Council Chair Martin Hewitt said the confidence of women and girls in the police "has been damaged further by the details of David Carrick’s decades long violent and degrading abuse of women and the police failures to spot and stop him".
He added: “Chief constables are rooting abusers and those who betray our standards out of policing."
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”.
He told MPs the police “must address the failings in this case, restore public confidence and ensure the safety of women and girls”.
Later on Wednesday, Mr Sunak said he had “constructive” talks with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley. The PM said he had “made clear" to Sir Mark that "the abuse of power that we have seen this week is absolutely despicable and it needs to be addressed immediately”.
How are police officers vetted?
Police recruits go through vetting as part of their application process. They are subjected to background checks across all police information systems, and their family and close associates are also check.
This process for vetting recruits was introduced in 2006. In the wake of the Carrick case, the Home Office has asked that police forces check existing staff with the same stringency that is expected when they vet new ones.
Another watchdog review has been commissioned so His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) can check how forces have responded to its recent findings on vetting and corruption within the ranks to “make sure chief officers are taking the necessary action to remove those who are not fit to serve”.
The Home Office has also launched a review of the police disciplinary system to make sure officers who “are not fit to serve the public” and “fall short of the high standards expected of them” can be sacked.
Officials will examine decision making at misconduct hearings, and the panels tasked with leading them, as well as checking forces have the powers they need to take action against rogue officers. The review is expected to be completed within about four months.
More than 1,000 Metropolitan Police officers and staff who have previously been accused of domestic abuse or sexual offences are having their cases reviewed.
Ministers have backed efforts to strip the serial rapist of his police pension after his offending was described as one of the worst cases involving a serving police officer that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has dealt with.
The former armed officer, who previously served in the Army, faced complaints about his behaviour before he joined the Met in 2001, then again as a probationer in 2002 and several times throughout his policing career until 2021.
He met women on dating apps or while out socially, using his job to reassure and then intimidate them. He kept some locked in a tiny cupboard for hours, beat them and urinated on them.
But he was only suspended from duty in October 2021 when arrested for rape.
Asked by MPs how Carrick was allowed to serve as a police officer, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke said: “I think it is quite clear that there have been significant failures throughout this.
“The offences committed by this individual are absolutely despicable and no individual should be allowed anywhere near a police uniform who is that way inclined and policing needs to get better at rooting out these individuals earlier.”
Steve Hartshorn, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales which represents more than 130,000 rank-and-file officers, later told the Commons Home Affairs Committee “we are absolutely disgusted by what has happened”, adding that the organisation would be “pushing for the changes that are needed to try and get back the confidence that is so definitely needed” from the public.
Asked what changes are needed, he said: “I think initially, you’ve got to look at leadership… there does need to be cultural change. There needs to be a proper victim-led approach so that when somebody comes forward… they are supported properly.”
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