"You can have confidence in our officers' integrity"
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“You can have confidence in our officers because we’re rooting out misconduct and stopping people who don’t match our values joining in the first place”.
That’s the message from our Chief Constable.
Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington was speaking as results of the historic data wash review of past records of all officers and staff in England and Wales is released.
In Essex, the records of all officers and staff were reviewed one new issue was identified and investigated but determined it did not meet the misconduct threshold.
Chief Constable Harrington says the forces dedicated Professional Standards Department is expert at identifying misconduct – and was doing this work before the review was initiated.
“We expect our officers to live by the oath they’ve taken – fairness, integrity, diligence, impartiality - as they strive to help people, keep people safe and catch criminals. And the vast majority do.
“But the work of our Professional Standards Department means we’re better able to identify the few who fall short of those standards and ensure they’re dealt with appropriately and robustly.
“In 2023, a total of 25 officers and specials were dismissed, or would have been dismissed if they hadn’t already resigned. I personally over saw 11 of those hearings further emphasising the importance we give to these matters.
“Only one new issue was identified as a result of the historic data wash, and after investigation it was determined it did not meet threshold for misconduct. This means all misconduct cases from last year, and currently ongoing, are result of work that was already being undertaken.
“We have invested in the Professional Standards Department with a new Prevent and Engagement team formed to deliver training and reinforce our standards.”
To ensure issues are raised when they happen, Chief Constable Harrington says the force aims to create a supportive environment for anyone who wants to report something that’s not right.
“We’re doing all we can to give officers and staff the confidence to report matters to us, including an anonymous reporting system.
“We promote the best behaviour so we deliver the best service.
“And our professionalism strategy sets out our expectations and values in terms of how officers and staff should look, lead, learn, work, and behave. And this is reinforced through our training to new recruits as well as supervisors and managers.
“This approach is seeing benefits. We’re seeing people report things to us, to have the confidence to stand up and say something’s not right.
“This means we’re able to deal with those whose behaviour isn’t ok, and ensure the public gets the best service from Essex Police and can have confidence in the people who are there to help them.”
And it’s not just dealing with misconduct from officers – the force is stopping those who don’t align with our values from joining in the first place.
Chief Constable Harrington said:
“We have one of the toughest, most effective vetting units in the UK and we’re confident we’re preventing the wrong people becoming an officer.
“In 2023, we turned away 71 people who wanted to be a police officer or special constable but didn’t hold our high standards and values.
“And last year our vetting was rated as ‘good’ by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services showing they’re effective at this work.
“We’d also already been re-vetting existing colleagues in line with the Authorised Professional Practice.
“All this means people in Essex can be confident that the officers who respond to their emergencies, are patrolling in their community, and are working to put criminals behind bars are honest, ethical, hardworking people.
“It’s one of the reasons that nearly 80 percent of people in our county think Essex Police do a good or excellent job.”
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said:
“It is of the utmost importance the public have trust and confidence in Essex police officers.
“We have an extremely high and robust level of vetting for prospective officers in Essex, a procedure which we regularly scrutinise.
“In Essex, despite the very high level of recruitment in recent years, we have found Essex Police have been able to achieve that while maintaining their high standards.
“Essex Police is now the largest and strongest it has ever been, 905 extra officers have been recruited into the force since 2016. However, we are vigilant this growth has not been at the cost of a drop in vetting standards.”
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