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Nine criminal investigations sparked after review of 300k UK police employees

A mass screening of more than 300,000 police officers, staff and volunteers against a national intelligence database has led to only nine criminal investigations, figures show (PA)
A mass screening of more than 300,000 police officers, staff and volunteers against a national intelligence database has led to only nine criminal investigations, figures show (PA)

A mass screening of more than 300,000 police officers, staff and volunteers against a national intelligence database has led to only nine criminal investigations, figures show.

The review, carried out after a damning report following the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer, unearthed 461 cases classed as serious enough to need assessing by a senior officer.

There were 88 that led to a disciplinary investigation; 139 had their vetting reviewed; 128 faced management intervention and 97 were found to require no further action.

Director of campaign group the Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ) Harriet Wistrich said the figures “simply do not stack up”, and that there must be flaws in police data gathering.

In its own review last year of allegations of domestic abuse and sexual offences against officers and staff over 10 years, the Met reopened 689 cases with another 196 needing re-vetting or new risk assessments.

Ms Wistrich also said data issues were exposed during the CWJ super-complaint – a legal process designed to highlight wider problems in policing – about police perpetrated domestic abuse.

“Whilst we welcome the principle of undertaking this extensive review of police integrity, the figures simply do not stack up.

“The outcome that only a tiny number of police officers from across the country have been found to require further investigation does not accord with recent findings within the Met police alone.

“The explanation for such a virtually clean bill of health must lie in the significant problems in the collection of data that the police themselves have identified.”

Officers in the cases were mainly ranked chief inspector or below, but one chief officer was found to need management action.

The criminal investigations involved five police officers at the rank of chief inspector or below, with one case involving alleged sexual offences, one claim of drugs offences and two accusations of fraud.

Four members of police staff are also facing criminal investigations, with two involving alleged sexual offences, one accusation of drugs offences and another classed as “miscellaneous crimes against society”, which covers offences where there is no direct victim.

The mass screening, the biggest of its kind in policing, was carried out in the wake of the Casey Review into the culture and standards in the Metropolitan Police, following Ms Everard’s murder by a serving police officer in 2021.

During Baroness Casey’s inquiry, another Met officer, David Carrick, was unmasked as one of the UK’s most prolific sex offenders.

HR records from all UK police forces have been checked against the Police National Database (PND), which contains intelligence and operational information, in a bid to flush out anyone who should not be in the job.

On Tuesday the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said 307,452 officers, staff and volunteers had been checked against the database, with 461 of the most serious cases requiring a review by a senior officer.

These were where criminal or disciplinary investigations were needed, or management action or re-vetting.

Other less serious cases where information was found on the PND were reviewed internally by forces but they were not required to provide the numbers to the NPCC.

Chief Constable Gavin Stephens
Chief Constable Gavin Stephens, pictured with former prime minister Boris Johnson, said the review was ‘extraordinarily thorough’ (Yui Mok/PA)

NPCC chairman Chief Constable Gavin Stephens said: “The cross-checking of records on such a large scale was a significant task, which shows our commitment right across policing to identify those who do not meet the high standards expected.

“Police forces responded with urgency, enabling us to carry out the largest integrity screening project that policing has ever seen

“Despite the comparatively low numbers of returns the exercise was important in ensuring we have a strong foundation on which to build an automated process.

“We look forward to working with our colleagues across government and policing to make this a reality.

“I hope that it gives further reassurance to communities, and to colleagues in policing, that the overwhelming majority of the workforce can be trusted, and that if you are involved in wrongdoing, there is no place to hide.”

The review also unearthed 400 cases where officers, staff or volunteers had been a victim of, or witness to, a crime, that were not previously known about by their employer.

Chief Constable Serena Kennedy
Chief Constable Serena Kennedy said police forces had also taken ‘significant action’ to deal with the less serious cases thrown up by the data wash (Peter Byrne/PA)

Chief Constable Serena Kennedy, NPCC lead for the data wash, said: “While the historical data wash has resulted in some cases which require criminal or disciplinary investigation, this low number, together with the fact these people have now been identified and appropriate action taken, should provide reassurance that we are committed to the highest standards of integrity and will continue to deal robustly with those who fall below these standards.

“In addition to the cases referred to an appropriate authority, we know significant action has been taken by local forces to address all information identified in the historical data wash through stringent processes and procedures.

“We also identified a number of people who required welfare support from their force and it is positive that we can now give them the care they require.

“These could be individuals who have been a victim or witness to a crime but have not received specialist support which they need and rightly deserve.”

Plans are under way to set up regular PND screening for all police service employees.