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Online recruitment methods are “plainly inadequate,” says Chief HMIC

Sir Tom Winsor, has called for a more rigorous recruitment process to recognise negative behaviours and attitudes held by an individual prior to their appointment.

Speaking to the Commons Affairs Committee, Sir Tom criticised the online recruitment process that some forces have adopted since the pandemic at the expense of face to face contact with an assessment  panel.

He has previously argued that an increase in recruits through the Uplift programme may also lead unsuitable people joining the service.

Speaking today, he said that as soon as police are aware of concerning attitudes or behaviours among trainee officers, they should “root them out and throw them out”, otherwise they will end up  “storing up what could be a 30-year problem”.

Sir Tom said forces need to make use of techniques during recruitment which will allow them to “recognise characteristics and behaviours which are inconsistent with the office of constable.”

“Online only is not enough. You need to get somebody in a room, you need to listen to them, you need to listen to them when their guard is down, when they’re not pretending,” he added.

The recruitment process should look at how candidates behave with colleagues, supervisors and those carrying out the assessments and consider how someone acts in formal and informal surroundings to “draw out those attitudes and behaviour”, he said, adding: “When they see them, they need to take them very seriously.”

He also criticised the attitude of “knocking off the rough edges,” an idea he also voiced last October during oral evidence given to the Home Affairs Committee on the state of policing and the fire and rescue services.

Sir Tom, who is coming to the end of his term at the end of this month, described the criminal justice system as “on its knees” and said a royal commission was “necessary”.

Last November, he called for powers to be given to forces to carry out random checks on officers’ phones, a proposal which was shot down by the Police Federation as being disproportionate and unlawful.

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