In January 2023, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) contacted all forces and asked them to prepare their HR data so all officers, staff and volunteers could be checked against the Police National Database to ensure they were suitable to serve.
In total, 307,452 people’s records were checked, including more than 7,000 people either employed or volunteering for Avon and Somerset Police.
Superintendent Mark Edgington, head of our Professional Standards Department, said: “This exercise is considered to be the largest integrity screening project undertaken in policing.
“Public trust and confidence in policing is crucial. The only way this can be done is by being open, transparent and welcoming scrutiny.
“The overwhelming majority of our officers, staff and volunteers working across Avon and Somerset are professional, dedicated individuals who act with integrity. Every day they help to save lives, put dangerous offenders behind bars and work hard to keep their communities safe.”
If a new case was found during the data wash and deemed necessary to refer to an appropriate authority for review, it was then dealt with through one of five categories.
Our figures were as follows:
* Criminal investigation – 0
* Disciplinary investigation (possible misconduct) – 6 (one officer, and five staff)
* Vetting clearance review – 12 (eight officers, and four staff)
* Management intervention or other action – 0
* No further action – 7 (two officers, and five staff).
Supt Edgington continued: “The public should take confidence from these findings. All new recruits and employees must be vetted prior to joining the police and it is clear from the data that as of 2023 our vetting system is robust to ensure only those people who uphold the highest of standards are recruited by Avon and Somerset Police.
“This review has found only a small number of new cases which were thought may require a disciplinary investigation and pleasingly none triggering a criminal investigation.
“We cannot be complacent though. Those six new matters that were initially considered to be potentially worthy of disciplinary action have been taken very seriously. Three of those upon review have been filed with no disciplinary proceedings necessary, while the other three are still to be finalised.
“We recognise vetting of people before they join the service is only one tool in ensuring our employees meet high standards day in, day out. Through regular training, internal campaigns and briefings, our Professional Standards Department makes clear to all who serve in Avon and Somerset Police what we, and importantly the public, expect from them and how they can report any conduct issues, whether that is in person or anonymously.
“We are totally committed to rooting out anyone whose standards fall below what is expected to serve in the police.”