Dear Minister / H.M.Inspector,
As the Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire (Local Policing Body) I am providing the following response to the Secretary of State for the Home Office, and His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) in respect of the HMICFRS report ‘An inspection of vetting, misconduct, and misogyny in the police service’, which was published on the 2 November 2022. This action is pursuant to my obligations under Section 55(1) of the Police Act 1996.
Local Policing Body’s Comments
I welcome the Inspectorate’s examination of this critical area of law enforcement and note the report’s assessment that: –
Following the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer, the then Home Secretary commissioned HMICFRS to inspect the police’s vetting and counter-corruption arrangements. This was to include assessing forces’ abilities to detect and deal with misogynistic and predatory behaviour by police officers and staff.
Forces need effective systems to prevent unsuitable applicants from joining. No system is watertight so, inevitably, unsuitable applicants will slip through from time to time. And some who are assessed as suitable when they join may become unsuitable later in their career. When this happens, forces also need effective systems to identify these individuals and, if necessary, dismiss them.
Over the last decade, there have been many warning signs that these systems aren’t working well enough. Some police officers have used their unique position to commit appalling crimes, especially against women. Some forces have repeatedly failed to implement recommendations – from us and other bodies – that were designed to prevent and detect such behaviour.
Identifying unsuitable applicants should start during the recruitment process. Too often, this process is not rigorous enough. Some forces appoint applicants without seeking references from previous employers or checking their educational qualifications. The next opportunity to identify unsuitable applicants is the vetting process. This too needs to be more stringent.
In many cases, forces had overlooked or downplayed the matter and cleared the applicants, often without any rational explanation for doing so. There were occasions when sound vetting rejections had been overruled, with dubious justification. We have concluded that many aspects of police vetting need to be clarified and strengthened
An alarming number of female officers and staff who responded to our survey alleged appalling behaviour by male colleagues. Their allegations included sexual harassment and serious sexual assault. We concluded that far too many women had at some stage in their career, experienced unwanted sexual behaviour towards them. Even worse, in many cases the perpetrator was someone who had previously been reported for similar behaviour, which the force either didn’t take seriously or investigate thoroughly.
Some forces have failed to consider the link between misogynistic behaviour towards colleagues and similar behaviour towards members of the public. And some are not responding robustly enough when presented with misogynistic behaviour in the workplace.
In this report, HMICFRS describe five areas for improvement and make 43 recommendations. The recommendations are designed to strengthen the systems. At the moment, it is too easy for the wrong people both to join and to stay in the police. Too many recent events prove this. If public confidence in the police is to be improved, chief constables, among others, need to be less complacent. Standards need to be consistent, and higher.
Areas for Improvement
- Forces’ use of vetting interviews is an area for improvement. In more cases, forces should interview applicants to explore adverse information of relevance to the case. This should help with assessing risk. When they carry out such interviews, forces should maintain accurate records and give copies of these to interviewees.
- Automated links between force vetting and HR IT systems are an area for improvement. When specifying and procuring new IT systems for these purposes, or developing existing ones, forces should seek to establish automated links between them.
- Forces’ understanding of the scale of misogynistic and improper behaviour towards female officers and staff is an area for improvement. Forces should seek to understand the nature and scale of this behaviour (like the work carried out by Devon and Cornwall Police) and take any necessary action to address their findings.
- Forces’ data quality is an area for improvement. Forces should make sure they accurately categorise all items of sexual misconduct intelligence. Sexual misconduct cases that don’t meet the definition of Abuse of Position for a Sexual Purpose (AoPSP) (because they don’t involve the public) shouldn’t be recorded as AoPSP.
- Workforce awareness of corruption-related threats is an area for improvement. Forces should routinely brief police officers and staff on the pertinent and sanitised content of their annual counter-corruption strategic threat assessment.
In order of due date: –
|29||With immediate effect, chief constables must make sure that forces use Regulation 13 of the Police Regulations 2003 for underperforming officers during their probationary period, rather than the Police (Performance) Regulations 2020.||28/12/2022|
|33||By 31 March 2023, chief constables should make sure that counter-corruption units (CCUs) have established relationships with external bodies that support vulnerable people who may be at risk of abuse of position for a sexual purpose, such as sex-worker support services, drug and alcohol and mental health charities. This is to:
i) encourage the disclosure by such bodies, to the force’s CCU, of corruption‑related intelligence relating to the sexual abuse of vulnerable people by police officers and staff;
ii) help the staff from these bodies to understand the warning signs to look for; and
iii) make sure they are made aware of how such information should be disclosed to the CCU.
|35||By 31 March 2023, to protect the information contained within their systems and help them to identify potentially corrupt officers and staff, chief constables should make sure that:
i) their force has the ability to monitor all use of its IT systems; and
ii) the force uses this for counter-corruption purposes, to enhance its investigative and proactive intelligence gathering capabilities.
|2||By 30 April 2023, chief constables should establish and begin operation of a process to identify, within their vetting IT systems, vetting clearance records where:
i) applicants have committed criminal offences; and/or
ii) the record contains other types of concerning adverse information.
|3||By 30 April 2023, chief constables should take steps to make sure that, when granting vetting clearance to applicants with concerning adverse information about them:
i) vetting units, counter-corruption units, professional standards departments, and HR departments (working together where necessary) create and implement effective risk mitigation strategies;
ii) these units have enough capacity and capability for this purpose;
iii) responsibilities for implementing specific elements of the risk mitigation strategy are clearly defined; and
iv) there is robust oversight.
|4||By 30 April 2023, chief constables should make sure that, when concerning adverse information has been identified during the vetting process, all vetting decisions (refusals, clearances, and appeals) are supported with a sufficiently detailed written rationale that:
i) follows the National Decision Model;
ii) includes the identification of all relevant risks; and
iii) takes full account of the relevant risk factors described in the Vetting Authorised Professional Practice.
|8||By 30 April 2023, chief constables should make sure they comply with the Vetting Authorised Professional Practice by analysing vetting data to identify, understand and respond to any disproportionality.||30/04/2023|
|11||By 30 April 2023, chief constables who have not already done so should establish and begin operation of a policy requiring that, at the conclusion of misconduct proceedings where an officer, special constable or member of staff has been issued with a written warning or a final written warning, or been reduced in rank, their vetting status is reviewed.||30/04/2023|
|12||By 30 April 2023, chief constables who have not already done so should establish and begin operation of a policy requiring that, at the conclusion of misconduct proceedings where an officer, special constable or member of staff has been issued with a written warning or a final written warning, or been reduced in rank, their vetting status is reviewed.||30/04/2023|
|15||By 30 April 2023, chief constables should:
i) make sure that all police officers and staff are made aware of the requirement to report any changes to their personal circumstances;
ii) establish a process through which all parts of the organisation that need to know about reported changes, particularly the force vetting unit, are always made aware of them; and
iii) make sure that where a change of circumstances creates additional risks, these are fully documented and assessed. If necessary, additional risks should lead to a review of the individual’s vetting status.
|18||By 30 April 2023, chief constables should make sure that there is a robust response to any criminal allegation made by one member of their force against another. This should include:
i) consistent recording of allegations;
ii) improved investigation standards; and
ii) sufficient support for victims and compliance with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime in England and Wales.
|20||By 30 April 2023, chief constables should adopt the National Police Chiefs’ Council sexual harassment policy||30 April 2023|
|21||By 30 April 2023, the College of Policing, working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for ethics and integrity, should extend the scope of the Appropriate personal relationships and behaviours in the workplace (PDF document) guidance. An amended version should include guidance in relation to non-consensual behaviours as well as consensual relationships.||30 April 2023|
|22||By 30 April 2023, the National Police Chiefs’ Council2 and the College of Policing, in consultation with the Independent Office for Police Conduct, should define prejudicial and improper behaviour, using the definition contained in this report or a suitable alternative.||30/04/2023|
|25||By 30 April 2023, chief constables should make sure their professional standards departments and counter-corruption units routinely carry out all reasonable wider inquiries when dealing with reports of prejudicial and improper behaviour. These inquiries should ordinarily include (but not be limited to) sampling the following, in relation to the officer under investigation:
· their use of IT systems;
· incidents they attended, and incidents they are otherwise connected to;
· their use of work mobile devices;
· their body-worn video recordings;
· radio location checks; and
· misconduct history
|26||By 30 April 2023, chief constables should make sure their professional standards departments:
i) produce and follow an investigation plan, endorsed by a supervisor, for all misconduct investigations; and
ii) check all reasonable lines of inquiry in the investigation plan have been concluded before finalising the investigation.
|27||By 30 April 2023, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for complaints and misconduct should design a sampling regime for appropriate authorities’ decisions. This is to quality assure the decisions and identify any learning. The sampling should make sure that appropriate authorities’ decisions:
i) are consistent;
ii) maintain public confidence in, and the reputation of, the police service;
iii) uphold high standards in policing and deter misconduct; and
iv) protect the public
|28||By 30 April 2023, in the forces where we have not carried out fieldwork during this inspection, chief constables who have not already carried out a review of all allegations relating to prejudicial and improper behaviour, should do so. The review should be of cases from the last three years where the alleged perpetrator was a serving police officer or member of staff. The review should establish whether:
i) victims and witnesses were properly supported;
ii) all appropriate authority assessments, including assessments which didn’t result in a complaint or misconduct investigation, were correct;
iii) investigations were comprehensive; and
iv) any necessary steps are taken to improve the quality of future investigations.
These reviews will be subject to examination during our next round of inspections of professional standards departments.
|32||By 30 April 2023, chief constables should make sure that:
i) all intelligence concerning possible sexual misconduct by officers or staff (including abuse of position for a sexual purpose and internal sexual misconduct) is subject to a risk assessment process, with action taken to minimise any risk identified; and
ii) rigorous additional oversight arrangements are in place to monitor the behaviour of officers subject to the risk assessment process, especially in cases assessed as high risk.
|34||By 30 April 2023, chief constables should make sure that their counter-corruption units actively seek corruption-related intelligence as a matter of routine.||30/04/2023|
|36||By 30 April 2023, chief constables should establish and begin operation of an improved system of mobile device management, with accurate record keeping concerning:
i) the identity of the officer or staff member each device is allocated to; and
ii) what each device has been used for.
|37||By 30 April 2023, chief constables should:
i) convene, and hold on a regular and continuing basis, people intelligence meetings; or
ii) establish and begin operation of an alternative process to support the presentation and exchange of corruption-related intelligence, to identify officers and staff who may present a corruption risk.
|38||By 30 April 2023, chief constables should make sure that all corruption-related intelligence is categorised in accordance with the National Police Chiefs’ Council counter-corruption categories (and any revised version of these).||30/04/2023|
|39||By 30 April 2023, chief constables should make sure they have a current counter‑corruption strategic threat assessment, in accordance with the Counter‑Corruption (Intelligence) Authorised Professional Practice.||30/04/2023|
|40||By 30 April 2023, chief constables should make sure their counter-corruption units:
i) produce and follow an investigation plan, endorsed by a supervisor, for all counter-corruption investigations; and
ii) check all reasonable lines of inquiry in the investigation plan have been concluded before finalising the investigation.
|41||By 30 April 2023, chief constables should strengthen their business interest monitoring procedures to make sure that:
i) records are managed in accordance with policy and include cases where authorisation has been refused;
II) the force actively monitors compliance with conditions that are attached to the approval, or where the application is refused;
iii) regular reviews of each approval are carried out; and
iv) all supervisors are properly briefed about business interests held by members of their teams.
|42||By 30 April 2023, chief constables should strengthen their notifiable association procedures to make sure that:
i) they are compliant with the Counter-Corruption (Prevention) Authorised Professional Practice (APP) and that the obligation to disclose all associations listed in the APP is explicit;
ii) there is an effective monitoring process to make sure that any conditions imposed are being complied with; and
iii) all supervisors are correctly briefed on the notifiable associations declared by members of their teams.
|43||By 30 April 2023, chief constables should make sure that a robust process is in place for completing annual integrity reviews for all officers and staff.||30 April 2023|
|1||By 31 October 2023, the College of Policing should update its guidance on the minimum standard of pre-employment checks that forces must carry out before appointing an officer or member of staff. Every chief constable should make sure their force complies with the guidance. As a minimum, pre-employment checks should:
i) obtain and verify previous employment history for at least the previous five years (including dates of employment, roles carried out and reason for leaving); and
ii) verify the qualifications the applicant claims to have.
|5||By 31 October 2023, the College of Policing, working with the lead for vetting, should change the Vetting Authorised Professional Practice, to give improved clarity in relation to:
i) a greater focus on protecting the public;
ii) mitigation factors that may be employed;
iii) the weight to be applied to adverse information found on social media; and
iv) an obligation to record sufficiently detailed rationale, noting all identified risks and taking full account of all relevant factors, when coming to a vetting decision.
|6||By 31 October 2023, the College of Policing, working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for vetting, should include a vetting decision-making template within the Vetting Authorised Professional Practice, to standardise decision-making.||31/10/2023|
|7||By 31 October 2023, chief constables should introduce an effective quality assurance process to review vetting decisions, including routine dip sampling of:
i) rejections; and
ii) clearances where the vetting process revealed concerning adverse information.
|9||By 31 October 2023, the College of Policing, working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for vetting, should change the Vetting Authorised Professional Practice to include guidance for dealing with vetting appeals. This should include specific guidance concerning the composition and role of vetting panels. The guidance should be consistent with the Vetting Code of Practice, particularly in relation to decision-making responsibilities and the involvement of HR professionals.||31/10/2023|
|10||By 31 October 2023, the College of Policing, working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for vetting, should change the Vetting Authorised Professional Practice to make it clear that, if an officer is reduced in rank following misconduct proceedings, forces should review their suitability to keep their current level of vetting clearance.||31/10/2023|
|13||By 31 October 2023, chief constables who have not already done so should establish and begin operation of a process to:
i) identify the required vetting level for all posts within the force, including designated posts requiring management vetting; and
ii )determine the vetting status of all police officers and staff in designated posts.
As soon as possible after this, these chief constables should:
i) make sure that all designated postholders are vetted to the enhanced (management vetting) level using all the minimum checks listed in the Vetting Authorised Professional Practice; and
ii) give continued assurance that designated postholders always have the requisite level of vetting.
|14||By 31 October 2023, the College of Policing, in consultation with the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for vetting, should change the Vetting Authorised Professional Practice to prescribe intervals substantially shorter than ten and seven years for the renewal of recruitment vetting and management vetting respectively.||31/10/2023|
|16||By 31 December 2023, chief constables should make routine use of the police national database (PND) as a tool for revealing any unreported adverse information about officers and staff. To help this, the College of Policing should:
i) working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for counter-corruption, change the Counter-Corruption (Intelligence) APP to include a requirement for the PND to be used in this way; and
ii) change the PND Code of Practice (and any subsequent code of practice concerning the Law Enforcement Data System) to include a specific provision that allows for the PND to be used in this way.
|17||By 31 October 2023, the College of Policing, working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for vetting, should change the Vetting Authorised Professional Practice to give guidance that:
i) in every case where a transferee is refused vetting clearance, the originating force should carry out its own review of the individual’s vetting status; and
ii) the two forces involved exchange relevant information about the reasons for the refusal decision.
|19||By 31 October 2023, the Home Office, working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for complaints and misconduct, and the Independent Office for Police Conduct, should make sure that police officers who make criminal allegations against other members of their own force are afforded rights similar to those held by members of the public who make criminal allegations. These should include:
i) the right to complain about the conduct of officers concerned with the handling of the allegation, including its recording and investigation; and
ii) the right to appeal against the outcome of such a complaint.
|23||By 31 October 2023, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for complaints and misconduct, in consultation with the relevant IT provider and the Independent Office for Police Conduct, should arrange to add a prejudicial and improper behaviour identifier flag to the professional standards database used to record complaints and misconduct.||31/10/2023|
|24||By 31 October 2023, chief constables should make sure their professional standards departments attach a prejudicial and improper behaviour flag to all newly recorded relevant cases.||31/10/2023|
|31||By 31 October 2023, the Home Office, working with the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for complaints and misconduct, should make sure that, during pre-employment or vetting checks, police forces can identify any applicants previously discharged under Regulation 13 of the Police Regulations 2003.||31/10/2023|
|30||By 31 December 2023, the Home Office, working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for complaints and misconduct and the College of Policing, should make sure that forces can use Regulation 13 of the Police Regulations 2003 effectively to discharge probationers who don’t achieve the required educational or academic standard during their probationary period.||31/12/2023|
Comments from the Chief Constable
The force welcomes the report and findings detailed by HMICFRS in this report and I acknowledge and welcome the Police & Crime Commissioner’s comments.
The force has strong governance arrangements to ensure we respond positively to learning and actions from HMICFRS reports. Our response to this report and the implementation of its findings will be led by the Head of our Professional Standards Department, with oversight by our Deputy Chief Constable who has responsibility for standards, conduct, and vetting within the force.
At the strategic level we will robustly monitor force activity and progress by regular scrutiny and achieve national co-ordination through the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC). All activity in relation to HMICFRS is monitored through the Warwickshire Police Assurance Board that is chaired by Deputy Chief Constable.
Comments from the local policing body on the CC’s comments.
The Chief Constable is supportive of the report and has provided her assurance that the recommendations will be addressed. I will scrutinise the progress made by Warwickshire Police in achieving these objectives and will both support and ‘hold to account’ the Chief Constable in doing so.
This response will be published on the website of the Warwickshire Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).
Philp Seccombe TD
Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire