Police vehicles outside Nottinghamshire Central Police Station.

Nottinghamshire Constabulary is one of eight UK forces examined by the police watchdog, which reported that hundreds of officers who should not have passed the vetting checks were cleared to join the police.

Cases of officers being accepted into the police included those with histories of sexual assault, domestic abuse and other crimes such as violence, drugs and theft.

The watchdog review also called attention to the misogyny, sexual misconduct and racism present within police forces, towards both female officers and victims.

Failures in the vetting system used to carry out checks on new recruits and transferring officers were blamed for these findings.

Many police officers had given false or partial information, and were unaware that they are required to report significant life changes such as divorce and financial trouble, which requires additional vetting.

Nottinghamshire Police flag outside Radford Road Police Station.

Sue Fish, the former Nottinghamshire Chief Constable who helped pass the Misogyny Hate Crime Act in 2016, described the Vetting checks as “utterly inconsistent” and was not surprised by the watchdog’s findings after experiencing misogyny and sexual misconduct herself as a senior female officer. She told CBJ news:

 

The report looked at 725 cases nationwide, and described the decision on 131 of these officers as “questionable at best”, whilst adding that the real number could be much higher.

In addition, almost every female police officer and staff questioned by watchdog inspectors gave details of misogyny or inappropriate behaviour towards them by a male colleague.

“Policing disproportionately attracts men … who find having a warrant card, and the power a warrant card gives you, a huge status”

Sue Fish, former Chief of Nottinghamshire Police

The report was carried out by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS). It was commissioned by former Home Secretary Priti Patel, after the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a police officer in 2021.

Details of officers stopping and pursuing women sexually, known as ‘booty patrols’, were also revealed. In some cases male officers had targeted vulnerable female victims of crime and made sexual advances towards them.

Ms Fish pins these abuses of power on some officers’ motive behind joining the police. She said, “Some men, and women, find having a warrant card, and the power a warrant card gives you, a huge status.”

Police cars outside Nottinghamshire Police Central Police Station.

Other cases across the various forces inspected by the report involved a special constable with a conviction of numerous indecent exposures, an officer found to have slapped his partner in the face and police officers arrested for assaults on women, rape as a juvenile and drink-driving – who were all allowed to join the police after chiefs insisted that vetting had improved.

Recruitment Vetting examines:

  • Police National Computer databases
  • Criminal records
  • Credit status
  • Terrorism intelligence
  • Search engines and social media pages

Management Vetting examines:

  • Family members, partners, associates and co-residents on police databases
  • Personal finances
  • Gambling
  • Alcohol use
  • Business interests

The watchdog review showed not only that there were substantial gaps in vetting which caused some of these lifestyle factors to slip through, but that senior police chiefs also knew about the information in some cases and were covering it up.

In some instances, officers with a known history which would fail vetting standards were instead transferred to another police force.

Nottinghamshire Police has defended its recruitment processes, saying that the inspectorate rated them “good” with only one area for improvement.