All police forces will be asked to check officers against national crime databases to identify if anyone has “slipped through the net”, the Home Office has said.
It comes in the wake of the “sickening” revelations about David Carrick, who, having served as a Metropolitan Police officer for more than 20 years, was found to be one of Britain’s most prolific sex offenders after he admitted to dozens of rapes and sexual assaults against women. He had come to the attention of detectives nine times between 2000 and 2021 before he was prosecuted.
Now, the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) will ask forces to check current officers to find anyone who is “simply not fit to wear the uniform”. The College of Policing will also be asked to strengthen vetting procedures.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said in a statement: “David Carrick’s sickening crimes are a stain on the police and he should never have been allowed to remain as an officer for so long. We are taking immediate steps to ensure predatory individuals are not only rooted out of the force, but that vetting and standards are strengthened to ensure they cannot join the police in the first place.”
The NPCC, who works with police forces on staffing, says the check will help identify “anyone who has slipped through the net”.
Carrick pleaded guilty on Monday (16 January) to four counts of rape, false imprisonment, and indecent assault, relating to a 40-year-old woman in 2003. This comes after he admitted to 43 charges against 11 other women in December, including 20 counts of rape, between March 2004 and September 2020.
The Metropolitan Police has admitted failings in missing multiple opportunities to suspend Carrick, saying he was involved in nine separate police investigations before eventually being detained in 2021. Commisioner Sir Mark Rowley has apologised to the victims, admitting that he understands if the case has shaken women’s trust in the force. He said: “We have failed. And I’m sorry. He should not have been a police office.”
The Met has said it is reviewing 1,633 cases of alleged sexual offences or domestic violence involving 1,071 officers and other staff to ensure the appropriate decisions were made.
A spokesperson said: “These are reviews of previously completed cases covering the last 10 years that involved an officer or staff member. We are checking each one to confirm the correct actions were taken and that sufficiently rigorous scrutiny was applied to them.”
In a further statement, in a supposed effort to “provide clarity and reassurance,” the Met added that it has “included all internal reports or allegations ranging from public complaints or less serious allegations in the workplace (for example the use of inappropriate language) to the most serious criminal allegations of sexual assault.” It said these have been included to “identify any patterns of behaviour.”
Speaking at PMQs, Rishi Sunak told MPs that Carrick’s crimes were a “truly sickening” abuse of power and pledged police reforms so offenders would have “no place to hide”.
He said: “The police must address the failings in this case, restore public confidence and ensure the safety of women and girls.”
While Yvette Cooper, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said: “This is the bare minimum and it’s frankly shocking that it doesn’t already happen. The government’s response has been completely underwhelming
“Labour has long called for mandatory police vetting and misconduct standards, but the Government has refused to act. All we get are warm words from the Home Secretary and Prime Minister while in practice they have walked away from taking national action to improve police standards.
“Labour will take action to introduce new compulsory minimum standards. We need proper Government leadership as this is letting women and policing down."
Meanwhile, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has vowed to seek the forfeiture of Carrick’s state-funded pension, given that his crimes were committed in connection with his job. Home Secretary Suella Braverman is reportedly backing the call.
A spokesman for the Mayor of London said: “The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (Mopac) will pursue pension forfeiture in this case as it is clear that PC Carrick committed offences in connection with his service as a member of a police force.”