The Inspectorate of Constabulary has said that some 35,000 police officers in England and Wales were insufficiently vetted and forces must do more to root out sexual predators from within their ranks who abuse their positions of power to assault vulnerable people.
That number is said to be comprised of officers on the beat as well as back-office staff, contractors, and volunteers, with inspector of constabulary Zoë Billingham saying the 35,000 figure was a “best estimate” and admitting the true figure could be higher.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) inspected 43 forces across England and Wales — 202,000 staff excluding contractors — finding that on average 13 per cent of people were not properly vetted, according to the BBC.
However, the figures for London’s Metropolitan Police Service and West Midlands Police, the largest and second largest forces in the United Kingdom respectively, were the most startling.
Inspectors reported that more than one-third (37 per cent) of Scotland Yard’s staff do not have proper vetting, with more than half (52 per cent) of those working for West Midlands Police having not been sufficiently scrutinised, followed by 42 per cent in Thames Valley Police.
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Five forces — Devon and Cornwall, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, and West Yorkshire — were not able to provide any information on their vetting processes. Cleveland Police was the first to be marked as “failing” in all areas in its inspection.
Ms Billingham said that there “there have been cases [of abuse] in almost every single force”, with most victims being women, including the vulnerable, children, victims of crime, and suspects.
“Too often their abuser plays the role of the saviour in policing. They play the role of the knight in shining armour,” she explained.
The inspector also said she was surprised to find that there was no requirement to vet officers transferring between forces, saying: “Some police predators who get wind of the fact they’re about to be caught run and move from force to force. There’s no way of sharing intelligence between transfer.”
In the three years to the end of March, the HMICFRS had received 415 complaints of police staff abusing their positions for sexual purposes.
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The watchdog’s report highlighted cases of sexual predators using their role of authority to access and abuse vulnerable people, including paedophile Ian Naude, who managed to become a police constable with Cheshire Constabulary and went on to rape a 13-year-old girl in the back of his car in October 2017. He had met his young victim whilst investigating a domestic incident at the child’s home some time earlier.
Naude had become a police officer in April 2017, despite there having been a complaint of rape in February 2017 to Staffordshire Police from a woman and that same force having named Naude as a suspect in a case of sexual activity against a child in January 2017. While also in January 2017, West Mercia police had received a report that Naude had persistently asked a girl on social media to meet him. He was jailed for 25 years in December 2018.
West Midlands police officer Palvinder Singh was another named in the report, who was jailed for 14 months for bombarding four vulnerable victims with text messages, some discussing bondage, and contacting prostitutes whilst on duty, with the prosecutor having described Singh as “treat[ing] his job as a dating agency”.
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