HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS)
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Too easy for the wrong people to join and stay in the police, new report on misogyny and corruption finds

Police vetting standards are not high enough and it is too easy for the wrong people to both join and stay in the police, a new report has found.

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An inspection of vetting, misconduct, and misogyny in the police service

His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) reviewed hundreds of police vetting files and found too many cases where people should not have been allowed to join the police, including officers with criminal records or links to organised crime. It also found cases where evidence that a prospective officer may present a risk to the public was ignored.

Inspectors found examples of police officers transferring between forces despite a history of concerning intelligence, complaints or misconduct allegations.

HMICFRS said there were incidents which should have been assessed as gross misconduct that were assessed as misconduct only, or not treated as misconduct at all.

The inspectorate concluded that a culture of misogyny, sexism and predatory behaviour towards female police officers and staff and members of the public still exists and is even prevalent in many forces.

HMICFRS has made 43 recommendations which include:

  • updating minimum standards for pre-employment checks;
  • establishing better processes for managing risks relating to vetting decisions, corruption investigations and information security;
  • improving the quality and consistency of vetting decision-making, and improving the recording of the rationale for some decisions;
  • extending the scope of the law on police complaint and misconduct procedures;
  • strengthening guidance for forces on vetting processes and relationships and behaviours in the workplace;
  • understanding and defining what constitutes misogynistic and predatory behaviour;
  • improving how the police collect corruption-related intelligence; and
  • improving how the police assess and investigate allegations of misconduct.

His Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr recently said:

“It is too easy for the wrong people to both join and stay in the police. If the police are to rebuild public trust and protect their own female officers and staff, vetting must be much more rigorous and sexual misconduct taken more seriously.

“We found evidence of poor decision-making in police vetting, inconsistent handling of misconduct cases and a lack of effective monitoring of officers’ IT use, all of which can lead to devastating consequences. Yet despite repeated warnings – including several from us – not enough has been done to improve standards and stamp out misogyny and predatory behaviour in policing.

“The police must do more to prevent unsuitable people from joining in the first place, identify any misconduct within the force, and quickly dismiss officers and staff if they are not fit to serve the public.

“Given the risks involved with recruiting officers at the scale and speed required by the uplift programme, it is essential that police leaders act now on our recommendations. Our report highlights that they simply cannot afford to wait any longer.”   

Get the report

An inspection of vetting, misconduct, and misogyny in the police service


  1. For further information, the HMICFRS Press Office can be contacted at 0300 071 6781 or (e-mail address).
  2. Following the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer, HMICFRS was commissioned by the then Home Secretary to inspect the police’s vetting and counter-corruption arrangements, as well as police forces’ ability to detect and deal with misogynistic and predatory behaviour by police officers and staff. The terms of reference for this inspection are available on our website.
  3. As part of its inspection, HMICFRS:
    • surveyed 11,277 police officers and staff ;
    • interviewed 42 of the survey respondents;
    • examined 725 vetting files ; and
    • examined 264 complaint and misconduct investigations .


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