Not all police officers in Scotland have a vetting record and there is no system in place to ensure proper vetting takes place, a report has found.
The police watchdog carried out a review of Police Scotland’s vetting procedures and revealed its findings on Tuesday.
The HM Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) found that prior to the creation of Police Scotland in 2013 vetting was “varied, inconsistent and not always recorded effectively”.
“No check nor review of officers and staff employed by the legacy forces was carried out when the new organisation began and some have no vetting record,” the report said.
There is no “clear process” for officers to advise Police Scotland of a significant change of personal circumstances including a criminal conviction.
It also found that it is not mandatory for vetting to be repeated beyond what is required at recruitment – posing what HMICS said was “a significant risk”.
It comes after about 1,000 Met officers suspended or on restricted duties amid a force clean-up.
The Met has faced a series of harrowing scandals, including serving armed officer Wayne Couzens, who raped and murdered Sarah Everard, and David Carrick, who was unmasked as a serial rapist.
HMICS said all personnel should be re-vetted at least every ten years.
HM chief Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland Craig Naylor urged the Scottish Government to legislate to ensure there is a “minimum level of vetting for all officers and staff within Police Scotland” and to enable the Chief Constable to dismiss anyone who cannot maintain suitable vetting.
There is not, and has never been, any legal requirement in Scotland to vet officers and staff.
“Currently there is no clear process for anyone working within Police Scotland to advise the service of a significant change of personal circumstances, nor of a conviction,” Mr Naylor said.
“There may be situations where they are unable to maintain their vetting clearance and, as a consequence, it should be withdrawn or suspended.
“Our view is vetting clearance should be reviewed following misconduct proceedings to ensure any new risk is considered.”
Police Scotland said it will carefully review the report to identify any improvements.
Deputy Chief Constable Alan Speirs said: “The safeguarding of our values and standards has never been stronger and HMICS rightly highlights the high standards of our vetting.
“Over 5,000 officers and staff are vetted to an enhanced level with annual reviews and we will ensure all roles have the right clearance levels.
“We’ve invested to enable additional checks for new recruits before they are sworn into office and, working with staff associations and unions, we are introducing a programme of re-vetting.
“We know the onus is on us to earn public confidence and will carefully review this report to identify any further improvements which can strengthen our vetting.”
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