One of the most senior police officers in Britain told delegated at the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) addressed a damning watchdog report of police vetting, where they found that hundreds, if not thousands corrupt and bent officers could be serving.
Martin Hewitt who is the chairman of the NPCC told delegates that he has “repeatedly felt deep shame” at the actions of some officers serving in the police.
In the wake of the Sarah Everard murder by a serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzins sick police officers sent disturbing messages on WhatApps groups.
Hewitt said over the past year,“I have also experienced some of my darkest moments as a police officer.
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“I have repeatedly felt shame at hearing the actions of some individuals in our service and deep regret that we didn’t get these people out sooner.”
Hewitt added, “While the inspectorate agreed with the vast majority of the vetting decisions and found the majority of misconduct investigations were effective, that still leaves a deeply concerning number of decisions that were just plain wrong.
“And dangerously wrong, allowing predators or wholly unsuitable individuals to join or stay in policing and do harm to their colleagues or the public.
“That is simply not good enough.”
He then told delegates that a recent survey showed incidents of “racial microaggressions, discrimination and harassment are common and prevalent.”
He thanked those who had “courage” to speak out. Hewitt added, “I am sorry that you have experienced behaviour that you shouldn’t have faced and that you’ve been let down by the response.
“I am sorry for the weight and the worry that’s caused.”
Police chiefs were then urged to “urgently” tackle the problems “fully and for the long term,” warning that “Public confidence and the confidence of our people depends on it.”
Hewitt claimed that police have made “considerable gains in reducing and preventing crime,” adding that, “But we are solving 50% less crime than seven years ago. Our capabilities to tackle the 4.5 million frauds a year are still too limited. And the public are noticing and confidence is on a downwards trend.”
Hewitt said, “There are various figures and estimates but I don’t think there is any doubt that over half of all calls for service we receive are something other than a crime.
“Some are entirely legitimate police activity, but a substantial proportion see police stepping into health and social work because of an absence of other service provision.
“This issue has been raised at every one of these summits and I, and many others, have discussed it with every recent home secretary and policing minister.
“But there has been no meaningful change – and that needs to happen if we are to improve crime reduction and detection rates.”
He also warned, “A cash-starved police service and criminal justice system will struggle to make necessary changes and improve public and victim satisfaction.”
Turning to police culture, he said that officers should defend themselves against accusations of being “woke.”
He said, “Where we struggle to explain action we are taking or where it is not having a positive impact, we need to reconsider it.
“But, if we are accused of being woke when taking action that we know is effective in building trust, with people where that increased trust is needed, we must stand tall, champion and defend that action.
“We are all rightly sceptical of tokens or gimmicks. Meaningful action that works is what we need.”