4 November 2022
Derbyshire Police Federation secretary Kirsty Bunn said she was deeply concerned by a report which found a culture of misogyny, sexism and predatory behaviour towards female officers and staff and members of the public.
His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) also warned hundreds, possibly thousands, of corrupt officers may be serving in England and Wales as a result of poor vetting procedures.
Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said this culture was prevalent in the eight forces that were inspected which he described as a “depressing finding”.
Mr Parr said: “It is too easy for the wrong people to both join and stay in the police. If the police are to rebuild public trust and protect their own female officers and staff, vetting must be much more rigorous and sexual misconduct taken more seriously.”
Responding to the report, Kirsty said: “The report makes for grim reading to say the least but it is important that we don't shy away from the difficult stuff.
“We utterly condemn any male officers who have subjected female colleagues to any kind of sexist or misogynistic behaviour.
“It is also unacceptable that victims of such behaviour have been so badly let down by their employers and we note that the report acknowledges how difficult it is currently for officers to complain about their treatment.
“Forces have to be held to account for failing to root out the bad apples in the first place but also for letting down officers who have been victims of misogynistic and predatory behaviour.
“The inspectorate said too many warnings had been ignored which suggests forces consistently and repeatedly failed to implement recommendations designed to tackle such behaviour.
“The report highlights the need for a massive culture change within policing but this has to start at the top through strong leadership.”
Kirsty said the vast majority of police officers would be appalled by some of the behaviour revealed in the report.
She said: “The Police Federation will not hesitate to call out any dishonest or inappropriate behaviour which taints the reputation of our members.
“In my experience the vast majority of police officers work tirelessly with dedication and professionalism, act with the greatest integrity and respect and will be as appalled as everybody else by this report and its findings.
“I think it is important to point out that HMICFRS is keen to stress that the majority of police officers and staff meet and often go beyond the standards of behaviour the public, and their colleagues, have every right to expect.”
Kirsty said there the vetting system was clearly in need of urgent reform and said too many people who should never have become police officers had been allowed to join the service.
Chief constables and police leaders also came under fire for failing to “appreciate the damage to their reputation and the danger to the public caused by not having a significantly more rigorous process for identifying who shouldn’t join and who shouldn’t stay”.
Mr Parr said: “It’s something that I think that there has been a degree of complacency about and I think the lessons of the last few years have given ample warning of that.”
The watchdog looked at 11,277 police officers and staff, examined 725 vetting files, considered 264 complaint and misconduct investigations as well as interviewing 42 people.
According to the report, 131 cases were identified where inspectors described the decisions made as “questionable at best”. In 68 of these, they disagreed with the force's decision to grant vetting clearance.