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Sarah Everard: Police boss calls for new vetting procedure for seven forces

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Plans have been voiced for a unified vetting procedure for all seven police forces in the eastern region, following questions raised by the conviction of Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens for the murder of Sarah Everard.

Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore told Friday's meeting of the Suffolk Police and Crime Panel that he expected a unified vetting procedure to be in place by the end of the financial year for the seven forces - Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Kent.

It comes after Met officer Wayne Couzens was given a whole life sentence for the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard in South London in March, prompting questions over vetting procedures at police forces nationally.

Sarah Everard (52063274)
Sarah Everard (52063274)

Mr Passmore said he was satisfied that current arrangements in Suffolk were stringent, but said a unified system would improve that further.

He said: "I think it is pretty reliable at the moment but what we do need to do is see what can be done to improve it - it is always a quest for continual improvement, can we speed up the vetting process?

"We clearly don't want to compromise the accuracy or efficacy of it, and that is something I have already spoken to the chief constable about.

Wayne Couzens (52063272)
Wayne Couzens (52063272)

"And we are also looking to, or hoping to, set up a joint vetting process across the seven forces of the east - that is the East of England and Kent - to try and make it easier.

"We can dedicate more resources and hopefully make it more reliable, and therefore improve public confidence in public policing which is fundamental.

"I think we should have a national vetting standard. We actually do have a national vetting standard for contractors who do building work and other things for the constabulary so I don't really understand why we haven't got a national system in place [for officers].

"That is being worked on and something I would like to take forward because that will help everybody.

"It's very very important at the moment, not just because of this awful case for Sarah Everard, but with all the recruitment going on and the appointment of extra officers, we need to make sure we have got a system that is fit for purpose and has got the capacity and timeliness to make it successful."

It was confirmed that police staff undergo periodic vetting every few years in Suffolk, while officers transferred from other forces into Suffolk were also assessed.

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