Forces to team up to improve vetting of police officers

Sarah Everard

Sarah Everard - Credit: Met Police

Improvements are to be put in place to vet police officers in Suffolk following questions raised by the conviction of former Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens for the murder of Sarah Everard.

Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore expects a unified vetting procedure to be in place by the end of the financial year for Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Kent.

It comes after former officer Couzens was given a whole life sentence for the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard, prompting questions over vetting procedures at police forces countrywide.

Killer cop Wayne Couzens

Police forces are striving to improve public confidence after the jailing of murderer Wayne Couzens - Credit: Met

Mr Passmore told Friday’s meeting of the Suffolk Police and Crime Panel he was satisfied that current arrangements in Suffolk were stringent, but said a unified system would improve that further.

He said: “I think it is pretty reliable at the moment but what we do need to do is see what can be done to improve it – it is always a quest for continual improvement, can we speed up the vetting process?

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“We clearly don’t want to compromise the accuracy or efficacy of it, and that is something I have already spoken to the chief constable about.

“And we are also looking to, or hoping to, set up a joint vetting process across the seven forces of the east – that is the East of England and Kent – to try and make it easier.

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“We can dedicate more resources and hopefully make it more reliable, and therefore improve public confidence in public policing which is fundamental.

“I think we should have a national vetting standard. We actually do have a national vetting standard for contractors who do building work and other things for the constabulary so I don’t really understand why we haven’t got a national system in place [for officers].

“That is being worked on and something I would like to take forward because that will help everybody.

“It’s very very important at the moment, not just because of this awful case for Sarah Everard, but with all the recruitment going on and the appointment of extra officers, we need to make sure we have got a system that is fit for purpose and has got the capacity and timeliness to make it successful.”

It was confirmed that police staff undergo periodic vetting every few years in Suffolk, while officers transferred from other forces into Suffolk were also assessed.

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