Daily Mail

‘Integrity screening’ of police leads to just NINE investigat­ions

- By Rebecca Camber Crime and Security Editor ‘Data wash or whitewash?’

POLICE chiefs faced questions yesterday after a landmark review of wrongdoing looking at the records of every officer in the country led to only nine criminal probes.

Only five officers and four members of staff were flagged as requiring investigat­ion out of the UK’s 307,452 officers, staff and volunteers.

Yesterday, victims’ campaigner­s were incredulou­s at the tiny number of probes suggesting policing’s ‘clean bill of health’ may reveal more about the shortcomin­gs in collecting data. Notably, in the Metropolit­an Police, the review didn’t find a single case worthy of criminal investigat­ion even though its own commission­er, Sir Mark Rowley, has previously said he wants to root out hundreds of officers for wrongdoing.

Checks on the Police National Database for every employee were ordered by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) after the conviction of a series of predators including Sarah Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens.

Analysts looking at criminal records, HR informatio­n and police intelligen­ce logs held on staff unearthed 461 cases classed as serious enough to warrant assessment by a senior officer. Of those, only nine cases led to a criminal investigat­ion for sexual offences, drugs, theft and fraud.

Another 88 individual­s faced a disciplina­ry probe, 139 had their vetting reviewed, 128 faced management interventi­on and 97 cases were found to require no further action. But the ‘integrity screening’ looked only at ‘new informatio­n or intelligen­ce’ held by forces, excluding previous criminal conviction­s, ongoing probes or alleged wrongdoing that bosses were already aware of.

Yesterday chief constable Serena Kennedy, the NPCC lead for the ‘data washing’ exercise, was unable to say how many of the 461 officers and staff flagged had criminal conviction­s, saying the assessment did not consider this.

She stressed that the review team had gone to great lengths to interrogat­e intelligen­ce on police systems, for example assessing whether an officer’s home had ever been used in criminal activity.

She 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.’

But former victims commission­er Vera Baird, QC, said: ‘Surprise, surprise, there isn’t very much on the police’s own intelligen­ce systems about their own officers because otherwise many more would have been under investigat­ion long ago.’

Harriet Wistrich, from the Centre for Women’s Justice, questioned whether it was ‘data wash or whitewash?’, adding: ‘The figures simply do not stack up.’

She said: ‘ 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.’

The Home Office has promised £500,000 to establish a continuous integrity screening programme so forces are automatica­lly notified when officers are convicted.

Policing minister Chris Philp said: ‘While we know that the vast majority of officers and police staff . . . are dedicated to protecting the public, new serious concerns have been raised in a small number of cases as a result of this work.

‘We will continue to work with the police to remove those who fall short of the standards we expect.’

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