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Police Conduct and David Carrick

Volume 826: debated on Thursday 19 January 2023

Statement

The following Statement was made in the House of Commons on Tuesday 17 January.

“With permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a Statement on misconduct and vetting in the Metropolitan Police Service following the horrific David Carrick case.

Yesterday was a dark day for British policing and the Metropolitan Police, as an officer admitted being responsible for a monstrous campaign of abuse. I am sure the whole House will want to join me in expressing sympathy to the victims and in thanking them for their courage in coming forward. It is intolerable for them to have suffered as they have. They were manipulated and isolated, and subjected to horrific abuse. For anyone to have gone through such torment is harrowing, but for it to have happened at the hands of someone they entrusted to keep people safe is almost beyond comprehension. The victims have shown extraordinary strength and courage. Their testimonies were essential in ensuring that Carrick faces justice for his crimes. It is thanks to them that this vile predator has been taken off our streets, and the public are safer as a result.

The police perform a unique and critical function in our society. Every day, thousands of decent, hard-working police officers perform their duties with the utmost professionalism. They feel pride in putting on their uniform and want only the best for the communities they serve. I know that they will share our collective disgust that a fellow officer could be responsible for such a despicable betrayal of everything that they stand for. It is imperative that this cannot happen again, so I am grateful for Lady Elish Angiolini’s assurance that she will look at this heinous case as part of her inquiry.

From the moment I became Home Secretary, I have made it clear that things have to change. Public trust is precious. Our model of policing by consent cannot work effectively without it. I discussed this case yesterday with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, and I am encouraged by the action he has taken so far with his team to root out officers who are not fit to wear the badge. This effort is being spearheaded by a new anti-corruption and abuse command, but there is still some way to go to ensure that the force can command the trust of the people that it serves.

It is vital that the Metropolitan Police and other forces double down on their efforts to root out corrupt officers. This may mean that more shocking cases come to light in the short term. It is a matter of the utmost importance that there are robust processes in place to stop the wrong people joining the police in the first place, which is why the Government have invested in improving recruitment processes and supporting vetting as part of the more than £3 billion that we have provided for the police uplift programme. I expect this work to continue at pace, and for all chief constables to prioritise delivery of the recommendations made by the police inspectorate’s recent report on vetting, counter-corruption and misogyny.

It is now for the Metropolitan Police to demonstrate that it has an effective plan in place to rapidly improve its vetting processes. Much of the impetus for change must come from within policing, but this Government will continue leading from the front. As I have made clear, we are bringing forward part 2 of the Angiolini inquiry to make recommendations on how forces can improve culture and tackle the root causes of police criminality and misconduct. The inquiry was established by the then Home Secretary, my right honourable friend the Member for Witham (Priti Patel). I pay tribute to her commitment and leadership on these critical issues.

As well as ensuring that vetting processes are watertight, there must be fair and effective arrangements for dealing with those who behave or act in a wholly unacceptable way while serving. The noble Baroness, Lady Casey, recently identified concerns about the misconduct and dismissals process within the Metropolitan Police: it takes too long, it does not command the confidence of police officers and it is procedurally burdened. Bureaucracy and process appear to have prevailed over ethics and common sense. That is why I have announced an internal review into police dismissals. The review’s terms of reference are being published today.

This case will rightly throw a spotlight once again on women’s safety. No one should suffer abuse or feel frightened or harassed, whether they are at home, out and about or online. We are taking concerted action to prevent violence against women, support victims and survivors, relentlessly pursue perpetrators and strengthen the system as a whole.

On rape specifically, we are focused on delivering improvements across the board, so that victims get the support they deserve and cases are pursued rigorously from report to court. There have been some important steps forward since the publication of the rape review in 2021. The number of referrals and charges has increased nationally, while new operating models for the investigation and prosecution of rape are being developed through Operation Soteria.

None of that can undo the suffering of Carrick’s victims, but I assure the House that this Government will not shy away from challenging the police to meet the standards we all expect of them. Change must happen and, as Home Secretary, I will do everything in my power to ensure that it does. I commend this statement to the House.”

My Lords, this is yet another truly shocking and appalling case where a serving police officer has admitted to the most serious and devastating crimes. Of course, we pay tribute to the bravery of the police and that of the victims, but does this not show, once again, appalling failures in the police’s vetting and misconduct processes? Time and again, case after case shows that the current system is not fit for purpose. The consequences are devastating. Allegations of rape or violence against women are not taken seriously by serving police officers when made against another police officer; allegations of domestic abuse are not taken seriously in any vetting process.

In this case, rape allegations were made in 2021 but he was not suspended, despite domestic abuse allegations made two years earlier. A misconduct process concluded that there was no case to answer. A full vetting check was not triggered and his permission to carry firearms was restored. When is this sort of activity going to change? How are the Government going to drive this change, not only in practice but in culture? Most shockingly of all, this happened at the height of the alarm about Wayne Couzens and the deeply terrible murder of Sarah Everard. Commitments were made then. What has happened? That was supposed to be the turning point. It was not.

Public trust and confidence in our police is everything but it is being undermined, not only for women and victims but for hard-working police officers, including female officers who may have reported misogynistic abuse. It has got to change. We all support the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s determination to take action, but it is not only about the Met. Concerns have been raised in Sussex, Hampshire, Derbyshire and Gwent, and by Police Scotland and other forces, about misogyny and culture. We are told of hundreds of investigations in London alone. What assessment have the Government made of the scale of the problem? How many investigations nationally are there? Do they know, and can the Minister tell us?

The Government have announced that they have ordered that the record of every officer is to be vetted. Is this in guidance or is it statutory? What is the timetable? The Home Secretary has said that vetting obligations will be made “stronger and clearer”. Can the Minister explain what this actually means? Does the Minister agree with us that police officers accused of rape or domestic abuse should be immediately suspended? Does he accept that, in doing so, it would bring the police into line with other public sector workers, such as teachers? Does the Minister agree that it is not good enough that such decisions on whether to suspend are currently left to individual forces?

Does the Minister accept that there is no legal, statutory requirement on vetting? Employment history and character references do not have to be checked. The inspectorate has said that hundreds of officers who should have failed vetting are still in the job, including corrupt and predatory officers and those guilty of indecent exposure and domestic abuse. Is it any wonder that the charge rates for rape have dropped to 1.5%? This is a shameful figure, which is down two-thirds in the last seven years.

My father was a Metropolitan Police officer for 30 years, so I know only too well how hard-working so many of them are, but this cannot go on. The Government have to show leadership, and must tell us their plan and use statute, not guidance or exhortation. The Government promised action after the murder of Sarah Everard, after the murders of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, after the shameful case of child Q, after the shocking Charing Cross reports, and after the Stephen Port inquiry. Across the country, and in London, we have seen far too many cases of misogyny and abuse based on prejudice. What are the Government doing to change it?

Is it not the case that there needs to be a complete overhaul of the vetting, misconduct and standards system? It is time for change. Is it not the case that we are letting down those police officers across the country who are doing excellent work through failures in the system? The time for warm words is over; it is time for action. That action will not happen if vetting remains the Cinderella department, as it was labelled by the head of the College of Policing, with no real resources given to it. It cannot remain a Cinderella department. Our Government—this country’s Government—need to take charge and deliver the change now, not just warm words.

My Lords, I associate myself with everything that the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, has said. He probably said it a lot better than I could have done. I preface my remarks by saying that the vast majority of police officers, as the noble Lord mentioned, are hard-working, caring, decent and law-abiding. These remarks do not refer to them.

The most galling thing to me is how, again and again, serving police officers feel that they can act with impunity, and even boast about their illegal, corrupt and misogynistic behaviour. Never mind losing the trust of the public, they have lost my trust—something I once believed was unshakeable. But never mind that, our Home Secretary is going to order another review—I am sure that is going to do a fat lot of good.

We have here a caucus of individuals who are out of control, taking the mickey and biting the hand that feeds them. When a police officer believes that they can get away with rape and murder, where do you go from there? With David Carrick, you can add another allegation as well: depravity. Some of the things that he did are too distressing to even talk about. We can improve the vetting, of course, but what is to stop the old rotten culture spreading to the new intake of officers who are coming along? At least the leadership have made a start, by re-examining over 1,600 existing sexual abuse allegations.

We learn that the police are literally a law unto themselves. I was surprised to learn that there are no national rules on vetting, as the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, mentioned, or standards—for example, in recruitment. I ask the Minister why not. Surely a lack of consistency was going to be very unhelpful. The public just see the uniform wherever they are.

Since 2016, getting rid of bad apples has become more and more long-winded and legalistic, with an independent legal chair on misconduct boards. I understand that this is to be reviewed. Perhaps restoring the power of the chief constable to dismiss, with a robust appeals system, is the way to go. Where does the safety of the public figure on the scale of importance? It took 17 years of suffering before the force got rid of Carrick—17 years of missed opportunities, despite his nickname, “Bastard Dave”. Incidentally, Wayne Couzens’ nickname was “the Rapist”.

That brings me to my final point. Plenty of people must have known that Carrick’s behaviour was out of order and out of control, but no colleague for 17 years dobbed him in or reported him, as far as we know. Why did he succeed in escaping justice scot free to wreak even more suffering? In fact, it was worse than that: he was even promoted. It looks to me like cosy, collaborative complicity—a toxic culture protecting its own. That is the core of what needs to change.

Will there be a review of culpability of senior staff, who should have stamped on this laddish, and worse, culture? Unless someone gets a grip to expose all the other Carricks who are out there, how can I and so many other people feel safe with the police service ever again?

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, and the noble Baroness, Lady Burt, for their remarks. I start by echoing my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, who the other day said that this was

“a dark day for British policing and the Metropolitan police, as an officer admitted being responsible for a monstrous campaign of abuse”.—[Official Report, Commons, 17/1/22; col. 179.]

I am sure the whole House will want to join me and the Home Secretary in expressing our deepest sympathy to the victims, but also in thanking them for their courage in coming forward. It is intolerable for them to have suffered as they have. They were manipulated, isolated and subjected to horrific abuse.

We should also acknowledge, as did the noble Baroness, Lady Burt, that, every day, thousands of decent, hard-working police officers perform their duties with the utmost professionalism. It is inevitable that those police officers will feel very let down by the latest offence. I am sure that they too deserve some of our sympathy.

I shall go into the specific questions that have been asked of me, but, of course, I agree with the tone of all the remarks that have been made so far. On vetting, noble Lords may have heard on the radio this morning that the Home Secretary has written to the chief constable of the College of Policing, Andy Marsh. He has been tasked with putting the guidance on vetting on a statutory footing by the end of February—the 2007 guidance is not statutory; it is only that: guidance. Importantly, it is worth reminding the House that HMICFRS published a report on this matter last year. The end of February is a new target. Previously, when this was a set of deadlines that forces had committed to meet, it was to be done by the end of October, so it is a significant, and entirely justified, improvement in timing.

The HMICFRS has also been tasked with re-inspecting all the forces by the end of April. Finally, the National Police Chiefs’ Council will ask all forces to check on to the police national database. The Met is already doing it, and it is obviously overdue that that programme should continue.

The noble Baroness, Lady Burt, asked about the police uplift programme and vetting. Obviously, with such a large increase in officer recruitment, there are concerns about the vetting process, but the Government have ensured that all forces have been supported as they recruit officers and work towards meeting the 20,000 additional officer target—as noble Lords will know, that is well on track. That includes funding to deliver significant improvements to recruitment processes and improve infrastructure. A recent review of vetting capacity carried out by the uplift programme in October 2022 showed that, of the 36 forces that responded, 25 had increased capacity in vetting units between February and October of last year, totalling an additional 185 staff in those units—an increase of 33%.

Both noble Lords referred to the dismissals process. Last week, I answered a Question on this—coincidentally, I had a letter in preparation for the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, who asked it, because the terms of reference for that review were published yesterday. That review will look into whether the current system is fair and effective at removing officers who are not fit to serve in the police. It will include looking at the composition of misconduct panels, including the role of legally qualified chairs just referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Burt, any trends in the use of misconduct sanctions, and consistency of decision-making in cases of sexual misconduct and other violence against women and girls. The Government expect the review to be completed in approximately four months. I imagine that I will be asked why we need another review, but it is important to stress that we have to look carefully at the evidence to ensure that any change to the system is effective. I agree that it needs to happen urgently, but I think four months is a very reasonable timeframe in which to conduct this work.

The questions on the culture of policing are obviously extremely important. There is no doubt that there is a huge amount of work not only for the Met but for the wider policing community to restore and rebuild trust and confidence among the general public, particularly among women and girls. I know that some important work is being done. For example, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary visited the force in Kent. In her opinion, it is leading from the front; it has instituted a whole raft of operational measures to support victims of serious offences and rape, and I hope that we hear more about that soon. Noble Lords will also be aware that both the Angiolini inquiry—the terms of reference for part 2 of which were published either today or yesterday; I cannot remember which, I am afraid—and the Casey review continue to look at this issue. Part 2 of the Angiolini inquiry will look specifically into the culture around Carrick.

The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, asked me whether all officers who have a sexual or violent allegation made against them should be suspended. There is no place in policing for officers who perpetrate such crimes—that goes without saying—so all allegations should be dealt with robustly. We believe it important that forces have the option to suspend officers while they investigate such incredibly serious allegations, but they must remain as operational decisions which must continue to be taken by chief officers, having given full consideration to all the circumstances. I believe there are good reasons for that.

The noble Lord asked me about statistics, especially annualised statistics on police misconduct. For allegations that commenced after 1 February 2020, which were finalised in the year 2021-22, 0.6% of all allegations against police officers fell into the category of sexual misconduct. That includes abuse of position for sexual purpose. The Independent Office for Police Conduct publishes data annually on public complaints against the police. In 2020-21, 109 of 109,151 allegations made related to sexual conduct; this accounts for 0.18% of all complaint allegations. The College of Policing publishes annual statistics on those dismissed from the police. In 2020-21, of 257 officers who were dismissed—the statistic was broken down into well over 200 categories; there may be more than one reason for a dismissal—abuse of position for sexual purpose was a factor in 38 of those dismissals. Those are the best statistics I currently have.

I appreciate that time is running on, and I am probably talking far too much. I would like to reiterate that the Government are committed to the safety of the public. I was going to talk at some length about our violence against women and girls strategy, but I do not really have time.

The noble Baroness, Lady Burt, asked about who, effectively, will be the agent of change in the police culture. It would like to commend Sir Mark Rowley, who I spent some time with last week, and his senior team, including Dame Lynne Owens and various others who have been on the news this week talking about these awful subjects. Sir Mark has been in post only since September. He is committed to doing the right thing, and I think that he is utterly sincere in that and the right man for the job. He deserves all our support, so I wish him well and hope that he manages to complete his task with extreme speed.

I thank the Minister for his response; it was entirely appropriate. As his colleague in the other place said:

“This is one of the most egregious cases of police misconduct in the history of the Met, perhaps in the history of British policing.”

I struggle with the term “misconduct” when we are talking sustained, sadistic rape and serious sexual assault. In a matter of a few weeks, we have had awful disclosures of racism and misogyny in the uniformed services on whom we depend in London, both the fire service and the police, which indeed raises questions about culture and recruitment. I will ask the Minister a specific question: why was the data and intelligence on this police officer and others not collected? Given that the police depend on collecting data and intelligence to stop crime—particularly terrorism—why are they not collecting data and intelligence on themselves? Why were these complaints not collated, so that somebody could notice that this police officer was out of control and behaving in a completely horrible and inappropriate fashion? It seems that there is a huge gap in management and operations.

I agree with the Minister that the commissioner is deeply committed to dealing with this deeply rooted misogynistic culture, but why is the commissioner against independent scrutiny and support of the progress to deal with these huge culture changes? Why has he not announced that there will be no more recruitment or appraisal of officers without independent input to ensure that that scrutiny has its eyes open to the risks and does not have its eyes closed by the culture that already exists in the Met?

Finally, Dame Vera Baird, the former Victims’ Commissioner, said it would be appropriate for his pension pot to be taken away because he was a serious offender. She asked:

“What does it matter if he was on duty or not?”

He used his status as a police officer to perpetuate these awful crimes, so, apart from the fact that there must be some question mark over his pension pot, she said:

“I hope his victims will be compensated without having to go to court.”

I agree with the noble Baroness that “misconduct” is not the right word for this; this is serious and violent crime. She is 100% right on that.

I cannot answer the questions in detail as to why the Met failed in its responsibilities on the collection and assessment of data, but the noble Baroness is absolutely right that there were serial failures, which unfortunately were repeated very often. I will add go into some detail: Carrick was the subject of five complaints from members of the public between 2002 and 2008, none of which was of a sexual nature. He came to the Metropolitan Police Service’s attention nine times prior to October 2021 for off-duty matters; the earliest was in 2000, prior to his police service. He was not charged with a criminal offence on any of those occasions, but his case history clearly revealed a pattern of behaviour which should have raised concerns, regardless of the outcome of individual incidents.

The Metropolitan Police’s processes did not properly identify the risk and he was granted clearance when he was vetted on joining the Metropolitan Police in 2001, and again in 2017—that was six years later than when he should have been re-vetted after 10 years’ service. There is no excuse for any of that; these are just unfortunate and simple facts. I am confident that Sir Mark, as the noble Baroness reiterated, is the right man to root this out and to sort it out, and I have no doubt that he will. I cannot answer the specific questions as to why he is reluctant to do certain other things, but I can ask him and perhaps report back.

I apologise for this long answer. The noble Baroness also asked me about his pension. The forfeiture of a police officer’s pension is a matter for the Pension Supervising Authority, and, for officers in the Metropolitan Police Service, that is the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime—MOPAC.

My Lords, I have been sitting on an advisory panel for the Metropolitan Police’s ongoing review of PaDP, the armed unit where Wayne Couzens and David Carrick worked. I absolutely do not doubt the determination of either the Government or Sir Mark Rowley; he is obviously determined to try to root out dangerous and toxic officers. But he needs tools to do that. As it stands, it is an impossible situation, and I really hope that the review they speak of will be robust. Let us face it, the bottom line is that the bar to dismissal needs to be severely and significantly lowered for police officers. At the moment, it is vague and open to interpretation what constitutes serious misconduct and grounds for dismissal; it is absolutely far too woolly, and that needs to change. We well know that charges of domestic abuse, rape and sexual misconduct never get anywhere near court, let alone conviction; so these things are not being picked up in the way they should be.

When the new systems are put in place—I sincerely hope they are; I give full support to what the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, said about a full overhaul of the regulatory system—they should include discretion, common sense and, as we have just spoken about, an ability to join up the dots on these individuals. That may sound easy, but it will not be. It needs a proper restructure, resource and a complete overhaul; if we do not do that, I am afraid that nothing will change.

I entirely agree with my noble friend. One of the reasons for setting up the dismissals review is that Sir Mark Rowley has publicly requested that we look into this, to make his life, and those of other chief constables, potentially easier in this regard. It was also partly a review of the interim report by the noble Baroness, Lady Casey.

I happen to have the terms of reference in front of me, and I think it is worth going through them in a little detail; I will try to keep this reasonably brief. The terms of reference are to:

“Understand the consistency of decision-making at both hearings and accelerated hearings … Assess whether there is disproportionality in dismissals and, if so, examine the potential causes. Establish any trends in the use of sanctions at both hearings and accelerated hearings … To review the existing model”—

which I have already talked about a bit.

“Ensure that forces are able to effectively use Regulation 13 of the Police Regulations 2003 to dispense with the services of probationary officers … Review the available appeal mechanisms for both officers and chief constables”—

I know that subject that exercises many noble Lords.

“Consider the merits of a presumption for disciplinary action against officers found to have committed a criminal offence … Review whether the current three-stage performance system is effective”.

That is a very comprehensive set of terms. As I have already said, the review will be delivered back to us for consideration in four months, and I certainly hope that its recommendations will be acted on in full, in order, as I said at the start of this answer, to deal with Sir Mark Rowley’s request and to respond to the interim review from the noble Baroness, Lady Casey.

My Lords, we have been here before; this is not the first time we have debated the issue in this Chamber. I have been here for nearly 10 years, and it has been debated several times, so I am sadly not convinced that determination is what is needed—there definitely needs to be an overhaul. I support all the comments that have been made.

My small knowledge of the police from the outside, and from having discussed this with many officers and former officers, is that it is impossible that there was not a lot of gossip about Carrick before now—and, before him, about Couzens and many others way into the past. Senior officers must have known and must, at some point, have turned a blind eye. That is what disturbs me the most, because this issue is not only about new recruits and officers on the street but about senior officers. It goes to the root of the problem: deep misogyny, which of course is not only in our police but in wider society, which is why it is so difficult to eradicate. The Minister has made good points on the collection of data and so on, but what makes him think that this will be any different from every failure in the past to reform the police?

I thank the noble Baroness for those remarks. I am not going to speculate on the whole “blind eye” situation; that would be unwise given that the case, as the Lord Speaker mentioned earlier, is still very much ongoing even though there has been a plea of “guilty”.

That affords me an opportunity to talk a bit about the strategy on violence against women and girls, which is a government priority. We have taken firm action to tackle these crimes; that includes delivering more than 127 commitments, worth over £230 million, that were made in the tackling violence against women and girls strategy and the domestic abuse plan. We are implementing the Domestic Abuse Act; introducing new offences, such as threats to disclose intimate images, controlling or coercive behaviour, stalking and forced marriage; introducing new schemes allowing women to check whether their partner has a violent history; supporting Greg Clark MP’s Bill in the other place, which will create a specific offence of public sexual harassment; and launching a national communications strategy, Enough.

Those are all words; obviously, we have to deliver on those words. There is more to do. I hope to be able to say more about that from this Dispatch Box in due course. On what will be different this time, I think that the team in place is absolutely committed to making this happen; that includes in the police force and among other stakeholders, including this one.

I slightly hesitate to say what I am about to say but I am going to say it, although I do not want to draw crude comparisons between the police force and the Armed Forces as institutions. I know that there is much about the Armed Forces that we need to sought out because of cultural behaviours, misbehaviours and those sorts of things. However, helpfully, I would like to ask the Minister whether the role of quality leadership in mitigating these sorts of problems can be looked at in the review.

I ask this because the recruitment and training models in the police force as opposed to the Armed Forces are very different. In the Armed Forces, we recruit at two different levels: we recruit soldiers, sailors and airmen; and we recruit officers, for officer training, based on their potential leadership qualities. We reinforce leadership training and betterment throughout their careers. In the police force—although I am not an expert—they just recruit police officers. Yes, they have some fast-trackers with degrees, but I do not think that leadership potential is highlighted as an especial criteria for entry.

As I say, I do not want to make a crude comparison. My own gut instinct—in the Armed Forces, dare I say it, we deal with some quite raw recruits and put them in some quite difficult positions, so it is not surprising that sometimes some of it goes wrong—is that investment systematically throughout the recruitment, training and career development of officers in the Armed Forces does much to instil the right cultures and disciplines. I therefore think that it is worth looking at that in any review.

The noble and gallant Lord makes some extremely good points, if I may say so. They echo some of the points from the noble Lord, Lord Dear, a couple of months ago when I was answering a Question, which piqued my interest. He raised the subject of the closure of the Bramshill police college, which trained police officers for senior leadership and ensured a degree of consistency across forces. As a consequence of that Question, which was asked of me a couple of months ago, I had a chat about this issue with Andy Marsh at the College of Policing, where a leadership academy is being established. Progress is not particularly fast at the moment—there are all sorts of reasons for that—but conversations will be ongoing because it has certainly piqued my interest. I have the Policing Minister’s agreement to continue to pursue this particular subject.

On the Metropolitan Police specifically, Sir Mark Rowley is setting up a leadership academy. The noble and gallant Lord raised the subject of degrees and what have you; I think that there is a problem with the consistency of delivery of degree services across police forces. It is certainly true that there is a problem of consistency of leadership across police forces. The noble and gallant Lord also hinted at an interesting point, towards the end of his question, about the types of officer that are now recruited. Obviously, the skills required to break up a fight in a pub and those required to tackle online crime are very different. They really ought to provoke some serious thinking about who, how and why we recruit.

I am grateful to the Minister for his points about the violence against women and girls strategy. The measure of that, of course, will be whether we stop losing 140 women a year at the hands of domestic abuse attackers.

Although PC Carrick was a Metropolitan Police officer, he lived in my hometown of Stevenage. I express my great thanks to Hertfordshire Constabulary for the very thorough investigation that it carried out into this issue. I join noble Lords in expressing my shock at the disgraceful and troubling revelations regarding this case and others. I worked in policing for many years. I feel deeply for the thousands of officers out there who do amazing things in our communities every day and who will feel so badly let down by the appalling conduct of PC Carrick and the other cases that we have heard about. They have damaged the trust and confidence of the communities that our good officers serve.

With the Met Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, saying that he has a further 800 officers suspended or on limited duties because they are under investigation for serious misconduct, what reassurance can the Minister give about the liaison between the Metropolitan Police and the surrounding areas and forces where these potential offenders may live?

I echo the noble Baroness’s comments about the vast majority of serving officers who do such a fantastic job, whom I have already referenced. As the noble Baroness says, their work is undermined by situations such as this. As regards liaison with the surrounding areas, I am afraid that I really do not have the answer to that question. I shall ask Sir Mark and see whether he is willing to say something in public on that subject.

My Lords, this is the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the “Windrush”, which we will have a debate on later today. For years, there have been many complaints from certain communities and officers who have left the force, talking about the cultural problems around ethnic minority policing. Can my noble friend assure the House that this assessment of culture will be wide enough to cover that matter?

Can my noble friend also go back and ask for some urgent advice for women? Many of these situations involve off-duty or plain-clothes police and occur when women might be on their own. What is the advice to women in particular, and vulnerable people, if they are approached by somebody in plain clothes, either on or off duty, and they produce their warrant card? We are left in a serious situation here of not knowing whether to trust that person.

I reassure my noble friend that the review into police culture will be a review into all the police culture. I can confidently say that because I know it to be the case. As I just referenced when talking about the terms of reference on the dismissals process, there is a specific question there on proportionality, which very much relates to the matters that she has just raised.

On guidance for women, it would be difficult for me to comment on the operational guidance that is handed out but I remember that, after the appalling Sarah Everard case, there was some updated guidance given by the police. I cannot remember exactly what it was, I am afraid, but I shall refer back to it and come back.

A point has occurred to me as a result of this extremely interesting and powerful debate. On the question of vetting, who does it? What rank are those who conduct the vetting and what training do they have in vetting? If you want to join a merchant bank in this country, you are subject to vetting of a very effective nature. If that is the beginning of the mistakes, surely that is a place where there must be a much more effective way of deciding who is eligible, by reason of experience and ability, than has been the case so far.

Is there any independent element to vetting? We know—we can point to ourselves—that, when it comes to the issue of discipline, we now have a substantial element of independence. Indeed, we had two recent cases when a noble Lord and a noble Baroness were suspended. If we look at the document upon which those suspensions took place, we see just how substantial the independent element is in our discipline procedures. Can the Minister ensure that any review deals properly with the whole question of the quality of vetting, and that every sympathy is expressed to the extent that there should be independent contributions to both vetting and dealing with complaints?

The noble Lord raises a good point. I think that I have dealt with this to some extent by talking about the Home Secretary’s letter and instructions to the College of Policing as regards vetting standards and to how they are going to be upgraded to the statutory code of practice. There is authorised professional practice guidance—I do not know what it contains and I am afraid that I do not know who is responsible for vetting, but the people who do it work to very professional guidelines, as set out by the College of Policing. The other important thing to remind the House of is that the Home Secretary has tasked the HMICFRS to re-inspect all police forces by the end of this April.