Police officers in Brighton and Hove are being re-vetted in light of the report into negative behaviours and cultures in the Metropolitan Police by Louise Casey.
Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne said on Friday (24 March) that Sussex Police, including her own office, were currently going through a re-vetting process.
Mrs Bourne told the Sussex Police and Crime Panel that she was taking the report by Baroness Casey extremely seriously.
It would be too easy to say that this was an issue that only affected the Met, Mrs Bourne said.
She added: “If the Met sneezes, all other forces catch a cold. This report is a pivotal moment for the Met Police but also for other police forces across the county.
“You cannot police without consent and when public confidence in the police is low.”
She also spoke about support for whistle-blowers and said that an anonymous line enabled officers to report concerns.
In an ideal world, staff and officers would feel supported enough to challenge bad behaviour openly when they saw it, she said.
And while the police and crime panel recognised the importance of vetting, members were concerned about the underlying culture within Sussex Police and about the effect of the report on officers and police staff.
This prompted Mrs Bourne to pay tribute to continued good work of the vast majority of those working within Sussex Police.
Her remarks to the police and crime panel came just days after the Shadow Homme Secretary, Yvette Cooper, mentioned Sussex Police in the House of Commons in a debate on Tuesday (21 March).
Some officers have been disciplined for or convicted of domestic abuse and sexual misconduct – and misconduct hearings have taken place in secret, with officers granted anonymity.
In a debate about the Casey report and the failings in the Met, Yvette Cooper told MPs: “The failure to root out officers who have been involved in domestic abuse or sexual assault also applies in other forces.
“The failure to tackle culture has gone wrong in other forces too, with problems in Gwent, Hampshire, Police Scotland, Sussex, Leicestershire and more.
“It is a disgrace that there are still not mandatory requirements on vetting and training, underpinned by law, and that misconduct systems are still too weak.
“I urge the Home Secretary to commit now that anyone under investigation for domestic abuse or sexual assault will be automatically suspended from their role as a police officer – and that anyone with any kind of history of domestic abuse or sexual assault will not be given any chance to become a police officer.
“We need an urgent overhaul, underpinned by law.”
After the police and crime panel meeting, the chairman, Councillor Christian Mitchell, said: “Much of the panel question time was quite rightly dedicated to fall-out from the Casey report and how Sussex Police were ensuring they stamped out any issues in their own force.
“I think panel members were reassured by the measures already in place and the commissioner’s realistic approach and commitment to tackling any issues.”
The next meeting of the Sussex Police and Crime Panel will take place on Friday 30 June. Full details, the agenda and links to a webcast of the meeting can be found at www.sussexpcp.gov.ukwww.sussexpcp.gov.uk.
Not before time.
Even when corrupt and failing police officers are identified, there are more often than not, moved side-ways to another department.
Don’t you remember CC Giles York saying his hands are tied, and that he often hasn’t got the power to fire corrupt officers…