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Regulatory reform needed to red flag arrested officers

BTP chief says databases need to be cross checked to quickly identify officer suspects

BTP chief Lucy D’Orsi has said regulatory reform is needed to more quickly identify officers who are accused of crimes while still serving.

Her comments made in a blog on the BTP website come in the wake of the David Carrick case. Carrick lived in Hertfordshire but was a serving Met officer. Numerous allegations were made against him by a number of women over a 20-year period in at least four different force areas but most of these allegations did not lead to his arrest. 

CC D’Orsi warned that gaps in the current system could allow other serving officers who are active offenders to “fall through the cracks” and called for a debate on “regulatory reform”.

She wrote: “If I was to commit a crime, get arrested and give my details, there is no obvious system check that would flag that I’m a police officer if I didn’t choose to tell them.

“Yes, you read that correctly. On arrest, my DNA and prints would be taken and checked against national forensics databases.

“Even though I’ve provided my biometric samples to the police (my employer), the datasets are not run together to identify a match.

“As it stands today, I could be arrested by the police and nobody but me would know I am the police. In my view, this is a priority issue for our attention. Otherwise, others could fall through the cracks and go on to do harm.”

She added: “It’s about time we understood and closed the gaps.”

The chief constable said she was “angry” that Carrick used his status to gravely harm women and felt “shameful” that he was free to abuse his victims for so long without alarm bells ringing.

“At times like this, I find myself awake at night wondering how we can strengthen our approach, stopping the likes of Pc Carrick from the very moment an allegation is made,” she said.

Meanwhile Humberside chief constable Lee Freeman has said public trust in the profession will continue to erode unless police move from being “the silent majority to being active guardians of our culture and behaviours”.

“Here in Humberside, I feel that we have a collective responsibility to reflect and recognise that the events in London also directly impact on us and how our communities see us,” he said.

“Indeed, this is already having an impact.

“I feel that the case of Carrick, along with other prominent cases that regrettably precede it, means police legitimacy is hanging by a thread.”

Mr Freeman said it is “hollow and indefensible” to claim incidents in which officers use their status for sexual gain or misconduct are similar to cases in other professions where teachers or doctors have abused their position to cause harm.

“(That) fails to recognise the unique position that policing has in a liberal democracy,” he said.

“As members of the police service, many of us have the right to take away another person’s liberty, by the use of force if necessary, and detain them for up to an initial 24 hours.

“This power is conferred to us on the basis that everyone of us is completely trusted.

“Right now, I feel that this trust has been severely damaged.”

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