How police are being vetted amid concerns over how Sarah Everard’s killer became a Met officer


Advice on checking police recruits will be considered after a serving Metropolitan Police officer is sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Sarah Everard, the College of Policing said.

The organization, which sets standards and police training, said I it would be to “review the support we provide to police services” after sentencing, as it would for other “significant cases”.

Marcus Griffiths, Ethics Officer at the organization, said: “The College of Policing’s authorized professional practice in auditing was updated earlier this year and is regularly reviewed by a national task force. to identify any emerging or developing best practice case law and revisions can be made when and where needed.

It comes after Home Secretary Priti Patel announced a full independent investigation into Wayne Couzens, while the Metropolitan Police Service announced a review of their standards and culture.

The Minister of State at the Home Office and Justice Department Kit Malthouse admitted to I that the verification process needs to improve as the Met didn’t start reviewing agents’ social media accounts until early this year.

A senior officer admitted that Couzens, who used his police status to kidnap Ms Everard in a false arrest, had not been properly vetted.

What checks are carried out on those who wish to become police officers?

Anyone can apply for the police officer position. However, applicants will automatically be rejected if they have been in prison (or have been given a suspended or suspended sentence) or if they have committed serious offenses involving “serious violence, dishonesty, corruption. , fraud, serious drug offenses and child abuse ”.

Like other jobs, applicants will usually pass interviews and assessment centers. If they succeed in these steps, then they will be “controlled” by the force they hope to join.

What is control?

Verification is a way of verifying that a candidate is a suitable candidate for the role of police officer. For example, this means checking that they have no criminal convictions or links to extremist groups.

The College of Policing said verification was a “key element in assessing the integrity of an individual”.

A senior officer admitted that Couzens, who used his police status to kidnap Ms Everard in a false arrest, had not been properly vetted (Photo: PA)

“This helps reassure the public that appropriate checks are being made on people in a position of trust. The check also identifies areas of vulnerability that could undermine public confidence in a force or the police service at large. “

Recruits are screened in a variety of ways, from identity verification to social media checks.

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What does vetting involve?

Officers go through standard identity, nationality and residence checks, as in most other jobs. They must be eligible to work in the UK and have lived in the country for at least three years.

Fight against terrorism and crime

The contact details of the applicant, his partner and all family members aged 10 and over, his friends and those he lives with will be recorded in the police and counterterrorism databases. .

Special inquiries from the General Directorate and the Counter Terrorism Directorate are carried out regarding the applicant, his partner, his family, associates and co-residents regarding “domestic extremism and anti-terrorism information” .

The person’s details, along with their partner, parents, roommates and other close family members, should also be checked against historical investigative files and “suspect and accused files.” “.

They will also be required to hand over DNA samples and fingerprints, but these will be destroyed once the verification process is complete.

Use of social networks

Authorities will also search for the individual on Google and examine their social media profiles. However, as Mr. Malthouse admitted I, social media checks only started at the start of the year.

The College of Policing said forces should check the social media of potential recruits “for the purpose of reassuring the reputation of the service” and to “ensure that the candidate’s online behavior is consistent with the code of ethics. or standards of professional behavior ”.

When reviewing online profiles, supervisors will verify that the individual uses social media “responsibly and safely”.

They must not have posted anything online that could be considered discrimination, harassment or intimidation, or anything that could damage their reputation or that of the police.

Finance and residence

The applicant’s voters’ file will be reviewed and they will undergo a credit reference check, and their home address and any other residence within the past five years will be searched on intelligence bases.

Some financial issues are enough for the candidate to be rejected, although the Police College will not say which one, while others will be addressed through “follow-up” within the force.

Medical checks and mental health

Medical information revealed during the verification process, including mental health, must be turned over to the Force Medical Officer or the Occupational Health Team “for a full professional assessment”. These health organizations will then decide whether the person is “medically fit” for the role.

For those who are more experienced than standard police officers, the checks are tighter and also look at any business interests that person might have, their reaction to the pressure of alcohol or gambling, and the ratings of their supervisors.

However, these are not checked for standard police officers.

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Who performs the vetting?

The control of new officers is carried out by the forces themselves, although controls are in place for those who carry out the control.

Marcus Griffiths said the decision to conduct monitoring investigations within the forces was to “ensure that the high and consistent standards set by the College are applied across England and Wales”.

How often does the check take place?

The officer is primarily controlled when he requests to join the force, usually after being questioned and passed through an assessment center.

They are also checked if they move between the forces more than 12 months after their last check.

All police officers must report any “change in circumstances” to the supervisory authorities as soon as possible.

This includes marriage, change of name or address, changes in life circumstances, or any “material” change in their financial situation, such as adhering to a debt management plan.

Officers should also notify authorities if they become the subject or person of interest in a criminal case.

Mr Griffiths said: “Because an individual’s circumstances can change, it is important that their ability to maintain their clearance to check is assessed.”

“Everyone who goes through the verification process should report any changes in their personal circumstances and, in addition, those who hold a verification should be subject to regular reviews (the exact frequency of these reviews depends on the clearance level, but it may be annual). “

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Driving forces

Wayne Couzens was linked with allegations of indecent exposure as early as 2015 – three years before joining the Met – raising questions about how he managed to get through cross-force control.

The College of Policing said the forces must ensure that “the integrity of the person wishing to be transferred to the force (or reinstated) is out of the question” and that there are “no outstanding complaints or no question currently under investigation “.

When the police officer has been checked within the last twelve months, the clearance is maintained. If this has lasted longer, they need to be fully checked again.

Whatever happens, the new force must receive the officer’s full history of complaints and misconduct from all the forces in which he served.

The new force will also examine a number of factors regarding their new recruit, including “performance, illness, complaints, business interests, notifiable associations and corruption intelligence.”

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