Damning UK report slams police for failed vetting of officers
A damning official report reveals that flawed vetting and unacceptable behavior by police leaders have resulted in a “prevalent” culture of misogyny and abuse.
After a high-profile murder, a report published on Wednesday from His Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), revealed how "prevalent" are the misogynist culture and predatory behavior in police forces in England and Wales.
Former police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, was sentenced last year to life in prison (a rare sentence in the UK) for the kidnap, rape, and murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, as she was walking home in London on March 3.
The case drew a lot of media attention due to the gruesome nature of the crime and the fact that the murderer abused his position of trust and power to inflict harm upon others, effectively damaging societal trust in the police.
The Metropolitan Police Service has been thrown into disarray as a result of a series of issues, including Couzens' conviction, which prompted its chief, Cressida Dick, to resign.
Police were criticized for not taking any action after Couzens allegedly exposed himself in 2015 and was in addition involved in a 2002 incident that was missed in his vetting.
Priti Patel, the interior minister at the time, ordered an investigation into misogynistic and predatory behavior within police forces.
The HMICFRS report found it was "too easy for the wrong people to both join and stay in the police" and that there were "significant questions" over the recruitment of "thousands" of police officers.
It added there were "systemic failings, missed opportunities, and a generally inadequate approach to the setting and maintenance of standards in the police service."
"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," HMICFRS's Matt Parr said.
Read: London Police report paints clear image of disgraceful behavior
Not only that, but the report found cases such as indecent exposure incidents that were ignored and considered as a "one-off." Other cases involved the hiring of applicants with links to "extensive criminality" in their families.
"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," the report added.
"Our vetting file review showed that forces had found language and comments on social media, attributable to vetting applicants, that were potentially discriminatory, inflammatory, or extremist."
However, the only action taken was that forces "were addressing this through advice to applicants regarding their future use of social media," it added.
11,277 police officers and staff were looked at and 725 vetting files were examined.
The report added that an "alarming number" of women alleged "appalling behaviour by male colleagues."
Read: UK: Police officer guilty of misconduct over selfies at the scene
It is worth mentioning that last June, the metropolitan police was placed under special measures after a long series of scandals.
The HMICFRS said on its website it was “monitoring” the Met to help it improve with a special focus on the following:
- MPS’ counter-corruption arrangements and other matters related to the findings of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel.
- Systemic concerns identified in the most recent (as yet unpublished) PEEL inspection.
- Risks associated with the forthcoming implementation of two major IT programmes.
- Several high-profile incidents that raise ongoing concerns about the force’s performance, or that are likely to have a chilling effect on public trust and confidence in the MPS.