Fresh focus on vetting as force cracks down on culture
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Bedfordshire's Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst is putting additional resources into re-vetting officers and staff as part of a crackdown following high-profile cases of police abusing their position.
Mr Rodenhurst made the commitment in an open letter to Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye, who had requested an update on vetting after a Met officer admitted multiple rapes and other serious offences against women.
Mr Akinbusoye asked for information on several areas, including implementing national recommendations on vetting; the status of vetting for Bedfordshire’s workforce, and what was being done to ensure complaints against officers and staff were being taken seriously.
Mr Rodenhurst said: “There is no place in this force for anyone who does not uphold the values and standards we expect in policing.
"Last week’s awful case once again highlighted the need for us to continually check the backgrounds of our workforce and strengthen our processes to root out anyone who betrays those standards or who poses a risk to the public.”
In the letter, Mr Rodenhurst confirmed every member of the force had been initially vetted, with 93 per cent of officers having since been re-vetted. That leaves 17 still to be reviewed alongside 112 staff and seven Special Constables.
In addition, 113 officers required a higher level of vetting due to being deployed into new roles. He confirmed he had agreed to provide a further two specially trained officers into the vetting team.
“I will continue to invest into our Professional Standards Department (PSD) to ensure we get through our vetting backlog, but also to review every complaint or concern raised," said Mr Rodenhurst.
"Vetting is a really important tool, but it will not identify every person who should not be in policing, which is why we need to keep reinforcing our standards and encourage our workforce to challenge and call out inappropriate behaviour and conduct.
“Whilst I am Chief Constable of Bedfordshire there will be a complete focus on ensuring we have a culture where anyone who may pose a risk to the public, or my officers and staff, will be identified, made to leave policing, and put in front of the courts and brought to justice if that is what is required.”
Mr Akinbusoye said: “Without trust and confidence there can be no effective policing of our communities, and people need to be reassured that forces are taking these issues seriously.
"I am pleased with our Chief Constable’s commitment to transparency in showing what he is doing to ensure that the highest standards and a healthy culture within Bedfordshire Police are priorities.
“I have spent time with our Professional Standards Department to better understand their work. This team has some of our most experienced officers and staff to deal with complaints. Furthermore, a community scrutiny panel is now in place to also ensure the best decisions are being made.
“During the 2022/23 financial year, the Chief and I agreed to invest more into our PSD. This is paying off and I give credit to the team. However, a healthy work culture and professional standards are responsibilities of all Bedfordshire Police staff and officers. I will continue to work with, and support, the Chief Constable to ensure these objectives are met.”