Police forces need to use some of their best detectives to root out racists, extremists and corrupt officers, rather than have them all devoted to solving traditional crimes, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary has said.
Sir Tom Winsor said chief constables must improve their vetting systems to prevent those with criminal intent from infiltrating the service or risk violating the trust that existed between the public and the police.
He urged senior officers to recruit some of the best detectives into their Directorate of Professional Standards, whose role it is to carry out internal anti-corruption investigations.
Sir Tom said while it was tempting to use the very best detectives to solve rapes, murders and terrorism cases, police corruption was just as vital.
Delivering his annual state of policing report, Sir Tom said recent cases, such as the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by Wayne Couzens, a serving officer, had reinforced the need for better vetting.
Scotland Yard also came in for criticism following the conviction of Benjamin Hannam, an officer who was an active member of the banned Right-wing terrorist group National Action.
Sir Tom explained: “It is of enormous importance that people who want to come into the police are properly assessed not just in terms of their intellectual and physical capacity, but also their attitudes, their inclinations, their motivations.
“If recruits during their two-year probationary period are displaying tendencies towards rage, violence, a liking for the exercise of coercive control over their fellow citizens, that needs to be recognised and properly dealt with.”
He continued: “The directorates of professional standards [DPS] should have some of the best detectives in the police force and yet the tendency of some police chiefs is, of course, to put their best detectives on rape and homicide squads and not properly to resource with really the very best detectives in the DPSs.”
But he added: “That is of enormous importance as well because police corruption, especially the abuse of power for sexual advantage – that is, I think, the worst form of police corruption because it is a violation of the fundamental relation of trust which must exist between a police officer and another member of society.”
Sir Tom also warned that the police were always vulnerable to organised crime groups infiltrating forces with “cleanskins” who have no criminal record in order to get access to intelligence.
“That is something that has happened for a very long time, but it hasn’t gone away,” he said.
Concern over Scotland Yard’s vetting process
Meanwhile, Baroness O’Loan, who chaired the independent panel into the murder of Daniel Morgan, has also expressed concern about Scotland Yard’s vetting procedures.
She told the Police and Crime Committee in the London Assembly: “There should be proper and regular security vetting of all police staff. We have heard evidence of vetting failures and we have seen that evidence.
“You will have heard recently of the vetting failure in the context of the case of Sarah Everard, a terrible case. We have major concerns about this area.
“They need to have effective measures to ensure that their staff are not currently engaged in crime or serious wrongdoing.
“All police staff should be obliged to register any membership of an organisation, including the Freemasons, which may call into question their impartiality.”