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Warwickshire, Northumbria and South Yorkshire all 'adequate' at vetting

In each inspection, HMICFRS reviewed 40 vetting clearance decisions from the preceding three years with a specialist from another force.

Demand, renewals and the approach to management vetting were among the areas highlighted by HMICFRS following individual inspections in Warwickshire, Northumbria and South Yorkshire Police earlier this year.

All three forces were deemed to have 'adequate' vetting arrangements after inspections carried out in April, May and April respectively. While the three were given the same rating, each had different strengths and weaknesses.

Inspectors reviewed 40 vetting clearance decisions from the preceding three years as part of their work.


While Warwickshire and South Yorkshire's vetting units have enough staff to deal with current demand, this remains a big issue in Northumbria - despite increased staffing levels.

The upshot is that work such as changes of circumstances and non-police personnel vetting applications and renewals are being delayed, because staff in Northumbria's unit are prioritising recruitment vetting to support Uplift.

Both Warwickshire and South Yorkshire were both praised for having processes which effectively predict future demand. Both forces keep a plan of predicted recruitment for various roles one year in advance. 

Warwickshire provides the police national vetting service (PNVS) on behalf of the NPCC. This factors into any assessments as to future demand.


In Warwickshire, there were just two people in post without the correct level of vetting for their roles because their clearance had expired. It was three people in Northumbria.

By contrast, South Yorkshire had 152 people in post without the correct level of vetting. HMICFRS found in some cases, vetting staff could have done more to make sure staff returned their vetting forms promptly. 

Management vetting

Performance in this regard varied between the three forces. Warwickshire was found to effectively manage this level of vetting by maintaining a designated posts list. 

To ensure a clear understanding of who occupies these posts, its vetting unit recently reviewed the list and compared it with data held on the vetting IT system.

Inspectors encountered issues in Northumbria and South Yorkshire. In the former, 24 individuals were moved into designated posts without this clearance in the months prior to the inspection. Staff said this was 'due to demands on the vetting unit'.

Three more members of police staff in a regional unit were moved into designated posts. HMICFRS has urged the force to make sure all 27 post-holders are vetted to the correct level as soon as possible.

While South Yorkshire's vetting unit prioritises these applications, at the time of inspection 98 people whose vetting had expired were in designated posts. The inspectorate has urged the force to prioritise those renewals.

South Yorkshire should also review its designated posts list, having last been reviewed at the start of 2022.

Vetting file review

Northumbria and South Yorkshire performed quite positively in this regard, with HMICFRS and the specialist agreeing with almost all of their decisions.

In the former, just one case was questioned because the 'decision rationale didn’t take full account of all identified risk factors'. 

The vetting specialist disagreed with South Yorkshire's decision to grant clearance in two cases, both of which involved clearance being granted on appeal (following initial refusals). HMICFRS found that the recorded rationale didn’t justify the appeal decisions that had been taken.

Seven of Warwickshire's decisions were questioned.

The report read: 'We found cases, mostly appeal decisions, where the recorded rationale didn’t have enough detail. We weren’t convinced that the force had sufficiently considered all the identified risk factors.'

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