Agenda item

Public Questions

To receive questions from (and provide answers to) members of the public that are relevant to the panel’s functions.


Questions should be no longer than 100 words and sent to Democratic Support, Plymouth City Council, Floor 3, Ballard House, West Hoe Road, Plymouth, PL1 3BJ or


Questions must be received at least 5 complete working days before the meeting.


Q1 - In light of the murder of Sarah Everard, and subsequent conviction and sentencing of Wayne Couzens, a serving police officer, will the Chief Constable guarantee that all officers will undertake a psychological profile test to reduce the risk of rogue individuals presenting a risk to the public?


The Police and Crime Commissioner needed to be assured that the Chief Constable was delivering the highest moral and ethical standards. The Chief Constable was responsible for the employment of all police officers and police staff.


The Chief Constable applied the national vetting process in accordance with the national Authorised Professional Practice, issued by the College of Policing. Those processes were subject to a National thematic inspection by HMICFRS at the direction of the Home Secretary. There were no requirements for a psychological test.


All police officers worked in a position of trust and as such every recruit went through a thorough vetting stage as part of their application process. This had been a nationally prescribed process and all Forces followed the same guidance. This included disclosing any convictions, motoring offences, outstanding charges or court summons and details about their family and friends for example, to ensure that they aren’t vulnerable to extortion or blackmail. The vetting process also assesse all applicants against the College of Policing's Code of Ethics, which considered a wide range of factors.


For clarity there were 3 different types of vetting: Police Vetting, National Security Vetting and Non Police Personnel Vetting.


The police vetting processes were most relevant to the question. There were two levels of police vetting, a basic standard called Recruitment Vetting (RV) and an enhanced level called Management Vetting (MV).


RV - This was the standard level of vetting required by every member of the force whether they were a police officer, member of police staff, special constable or PCSO. No one could join the force until they had been vetted to that level. The checks conducted were comprehensive and included Force intelligence systems, address, I/D, finance, relatives and social network sites. The vetting unit conducted all necessary enquiries, conducted a vetting interview where necessary and the force vetting manager or Force Vetting officers decided whether clearance was granted or refused. Officers and members of staff required this level of vetting throughout their service with the force.


MV - MV is a misleading national term, it meant an enhanced level of police vetting and was nothing to do with management but was required for officers or staff in ‘designated posts’. These were posts judged by the Force Vetting Manager to be particularly sensitive or critical for a number of reasons e.g. members of Special Branch, firearm officers, officers and staff involved in major crime investigation or covert police work. The vetting unit conducted all MV vetting enquiries which were extensive and included family members, all relevant databases, financial checks and a compulsory vetting interview. Once granted a MV clearance was subject to annual reviews and aftercare procedures. Persons in those ‘designated posts’ who were refused or had their MV clearance removed would not continue in that post but that was a rare occurrence.


Additional levels of vetting existed for specialist areas of work such as counterterrorism work, firearms roles etc. Regardless of role, all police officers were subject to a regular review of their vetting.


In Devon and Cornwall the Chief Constable introduced a “Bad Apple” scheme some years ago. All police officers and staff had a responsibility to report suspected corrupt, dishonest or unethical behaviour. It is recognised however, that it takes a great deal of courage for an individual to come forward, particularly when the conduct being reported concerns somebody that they work with. The Bad Apple reporting system was developed to ensure that officers and staff felt that they could report matters in confidence to the anti-corruption unit within Devon and Cornwall Police. This was part of wider counter corruption processes.


Q2 - Will you commit to implementing a policy of suspending officers immediately and appropriately charging them pending investigation if an allegation of inappropriate sexual behaviour is made?


The way in which police officer misconduct was managed had been detailed in legislation and associated statutory guidance. The level of misconduct would determine the processes followed.


An officer accused of an offence could only be charged once sufficient evidence had been available as per existing criminal justice processes.


The Police and Crime Commissioners office supported this process and appointed Legally Qualified Chairs where the misconduct hearing panel was convened.


A police misconduct hearing panel would likely be arranged to hear allegations of serious cases of misconduct by police officers or special constables. The maximum outcome at a hearing would be dismissal from the police service without notice. Cases would include for example, allegations of criminal acts, serious road traffic matters such as drink/driving and other serious breaches of the standards of professional behaviour expected of police officers, such as neglect of duty. Misconduct hearings could also be convened to consider the final stages of action under performance regulations, where police officers can be dismissed for unsatisfactory performance or attendance.