• Tuesday, June 06, 2023


Police watchdog warns against rush to recruit more officers

(Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images).

By: Pramod Thomas

A police watchdog has warned that the rush to recruit 20,000 more police officers increased the risk of introducing misogynist and racist recruits, according to a media report. 

In his ninth and final annual review, Sir Tom Winsor said that to restore damage to public confidence police must confront a series of problems, including the aftermath of Sarah Everard’s murder by a police officer, the Guardian reported.

The report comes a month after Dame Cressida Dick’s resignation as Met commissioner which followed a damning inquiry by another police watchdog into a culture of violently misogynist, racist and homophobic messages at Charing Cross police station in central London.

According to Winsor, the “sheer magnitude and speed” to hire 20,000 police officers “inevitably carries risks”.

There is a heightened danger that people unsuited to policing may get through and be recruited. In too many cases the system fails when, on occasion, organised crime groups try to infiltrate the police which can have catastrophic consequences,” he was quoted as saying by the Guardian.

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When unsuitable applicants lie on their application forms, conceal their social media activity or play down their criminal connections, the quality of vetting needs to be consistently high. If during the probationary period, a constable displays behaviour like homophobia, racism, misogyny or dishonesty, it’s necessary to take that really seriously.”

Women hold signs during a protest, following the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard, in March, 2021
Women hold signs during a protest, following the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard, in March, 2021

Prime minister Boris Johnson pledged in 2019 to recruit an extra 20,000 police officers. Police numbers had dropped by more than 20,000 since 2010.

He added: “I don’t think that what we saw in Charing Cross police station is limited to London. But we don’t have evidence yet of just how widespread that is. I think these matters are taken very seriously … by all police forces. And while what has happened recently is London-centric, it is not London-limited in all probability.”

The report also revealed that fraud has “exploded” and continues to be wrongly treated as a low priority by many forces, the model of local accountability, involving police and crime commissioners, has fractured some relationships between police and politicians, the fragile architecture of having 43 police forces, devised in 1962 and implemented in 1974, is very far from fit for purpose in the 2020s.

Dame Cressida Dick (Photo credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Dame Cressida Dick (Photo credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

According to the report, online crime is now by far the most prevalent type of crime.

Major shortcomings in policing persist, and these need to be addressed. Criminality is often now complex and far more sophisticated, and investigations can take far longer. If the police continue to use 20th-century methods to try to cope with 21st-century technology, they will continue to fall further and further behind,” Winsor told the newspaper.

The report comes at the end of Winsor’s 10-year stint in the job, which ends in March.

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