A new report into poor police vetting standards should be a “real wake-up call for police chiefs across the country”, Transport Secretary Mark Harper told Sky News.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Police and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has details of a series of cases between October 2018 and September 2021 to highlight problems with the verification systems.
These included cases where previous criminal behavior was dismissed as “one-off”.
Here are some examples that were highlighted by the watchdog.
Offenses as minors
A candidate applying to be a special constable was investigated despite being placed on a 12-month supervision order for indecent exposure as a minor.
HMICFRS discovered he had exposed himself to the same woman seven times over a two-week period, each time standing at her bedroom window and coughing to get her attention before masturbating.
The man applied three times to the same force over a 13-year period but was turned down, before appealing and being sacked – despite inspectors saying it should have been an automatic rejection .
Another said he had been cautioned for theft as a youth and accused of rape as a teenager. No measures were put in place to control him while he was working as a police officer to minimize the risk.
Allegations of sexual crimes
Another case involved a police officer who “allegedly engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with a member of the public and minor officers”.
There was a series of allegations spanning several years and the claims, if proven, could have amounted to sexual assault. But none of the complainants supported the action and the officer was later transferred to another body which was informed of the allegations and “other relevant information”.
They were granted investigative permission by the chief constable, who argued that accepting the officer would “make the force more diverse”.
HMICFRS disagreed with the decision and found it risks “sending the wrong message” to whistleblowers.
An officer had been investigated five years earlier for a sexual assault in a nightclub.
Worrying and aggressive behavior
An officer who transferred from a different force had been the subject of 25 public complaints over 10 years, many of them for “excessive use of force and incivility”. Four of the complaints resulted in “management action.”
The officer had also been arrested for being drunk and disorderly, but no action was taken. There was no evidence that the force considered the incidents to be a “worrying pattern of behaviour”.
Two other notable cases were one involving a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) who approved the investigation despite a previous warning for slapping his partner seven years earlier, and one in which an applicant at an officer’s post he had robbed an 80-year-old man. woman as a young man almost 20 years earlier.
Another applicant police officer who had accepted a caution for affray five years earlier was acquitted when probation officers wrongly concluded he had not been aggressive when he and a friend punched and kicked a man.
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Convictions or criminal charges
A police officer who had been caught speeding five years earlier had been convicted of attempted robbery in another country, and there was information possibly linking him to drug dealing and cars used by violent criminals.
The report also found that the force was not taking cases where applicants had been arrested but not charged seriously enough.
Among the candidates who passed the inquiry was a police applicant who had convictions for drink-driving and driving without insurance 18 years earlier, and was arrested four years later for intimidating a witness and twice after that for domestic assault .
Another police officer candidate had been convicted of drink driving and accepted a caution for theft from an employer more than 20 years before his application, then some 10 years after being investigated by racially aggravated criminal damage and public order, where the victim was an off-duty special agent.
A PCSO applying to become a police officer also wrongly authorized the investigation after failing to declare a warning and penalty notice for possession of cannabis.
Several cases were highlighted where concerns about family members were not adequately addressed.
One applicant to be a special officer had “extensive criminality” within his family, including a brother heavily involved in organized crime.
The brother had convictions for violence and drugs offences, was of “interest” in murder and kidnapping investigations, and several police forces in England and Wales had information on him.
Another community support officer applied to transfer to another force but failed to state that he had been involved in a domestic incident where he hit his partner two years before becoming a PCSO. Several members of his family were also criminals.
However, vetting officers agreed it would be “tough” to reject him and would give him the benefit of the doubt.