Thousands of corrupt officers could be serving within various ranks within the police after vetting failures have been uncovered by the policing watchdog.
A review which was launched in relation into the vetting of prospective police officers which was commissioned following the tragic murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer Wayne Couzens.
The police watchdog has warned that hundreds if not thousands of police officers who should have failed police vetting checks may be serving in England and Wales.
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services found cases where criminal behaviour was dismissed as a “one off”; applicants with links to “extensive criminality” in their families were hired as police officers; warnings a prospective officer could present a risk to the public were ignored; officers transferring between forces despite a history of complaints or allegations of misconduct; and basic blunders that led to the wrong vetting decisions.
The police watchdog looked at 11,277 officers and staff across eight forces, examined 725 vetting files, considered 264 complaint and misconduct investigations and interview 42 people.
Finding within the report some staff had criminal records, some where alleged to have committed serious crimes and some had a substantial undischarged debt and some had relatives which had relatives with serious organised crime.
Some 131 cases were identified where inspectors said vetting decisions were “questionable at best” – and in 68 of those, the inspectors disagreed with the decision to grant vetting clearance.
Matt Parr, Inspector of Constabulary, said: “It is too easy for the wrong people to both join and stay in the police.
“If the police are to rebuild public trust and protect their own female officers and staff, vetting must be much more rigorous and sexual misconduct taken more seriously.
“It seems reasonable for me to say that over the last three or four years, the number of people recruited over whom we would raise significant questions is certainly in the hundreds, if not low thousands… it’s not in the tens, it’s at least in the hundreds.”
Mr Parr said that the pressure to meet the government’s target to hire 20,000 new officers by March next year “cannot be allowed to act as an excuse” for poor vetting.
“The marked decline in public trust for policing is undoubtedly linked to the prevalence of some of these dreadful incidents we’ve seen in recent years, and you should have a higher standard of who gets in and who stays in if you’re going to look to reduce those kinds of incidents,” he added.