Sunak pledges police reforms after Carrick’s ‘truly sickening’ crimes

The Prime Minister has promised police reforms to make sure offenders have “no place to hide” after the “truly sickening” crimes of David Carrick.

Rishi Sunak told MPs the police “must address the failings in this case, restore public confidence and ensure the safety of women and girls”.

At the same time the Home Office announced all police forces have been asked to check their officers and staff against national police databases to “identify anyone who has slipped through the net”.

Serving Metropolitan Police officer Carrick, who was unmasked as one of the UK’s most prolific sex offenders, was officially sacked from the force on Tuesday.

Prime Minister’s Questions
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged police reforms in the wake of the David Carrick case (Stefan Rousseau/PA

The 48-year-old was found to have committed gross misconduct after admitting 49 criminal charges, including 24 counts of rape against 12 women over an 18-year period.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons on Wednesday, Mr Sunak said: “I know members from across the House will be as shocked and as appalled as I am about the case of David Carrick.

“The abuse of power is truly sickening and our thoughts are with his victims.

“The police must address the failings in this case, restore public confidence and ensure the safety of women and girls.

“There will be no place to hide for those who use their position to intimidate those women and girls, or those who have failed to act to reprimand or remove those people from office.”

The Carrick case will be “top of the list” of discussions when Mr Sunak meets Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley later on Wednesday, according to Downing Street.

Baroness Louise Casey, who is already carrying out a review of the culture in the force, and neighbourhood police officers including new recruits, will also be present at the Prime Minister’s visit to a London police station.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council is to ask all forces to check their officers against national police databases to help identify anyone who has “slipped through the net” before vetting standards were toughened, in the wake of the Carrick case.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has also asked the College of Policing to strengthen the statutory code of practice for police vetting, making the obligations all forces must legally follow stricter and clearer.

In a statement, she said: “David Carrick’s sickening crimes are a stain on the police and he should never have been allowed to remain as an officer for so long.

“We are taking immediate steps to ensure predatory individuals are not only rooted out of the force, but that vetting and standards are strengthened to ensure they cannot join the police in the first place.

“Every day thousands of decent, hard-working police officers perform their duties with the utmost professionalism and I am sure they all share my disgust at his despicable betrayal of everything they stand for.”

Another watchdog review has been commissioned so His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) can check how forces have responded to its recent findings on vetting and corruption within the ranks to “make sure chief officers are taking the necessary action to remove those who are not fit to serve”.

The Home Office has also launched a review of the police disciplinary system to make sure officers who “are not fit to serve the public” and “fall short of the high standards expected of them” can be sacked.

Officials will examine decision making at misconduct hearings, and the panels tasked with leading them, as well as checking forces have the powers they need to take action against rogue officers. The review is expected to be completed within about four months.

More than 1,000 Metropolitan Police officers and staff who have previously been accused of domestic abuse or sexual offences are having their cases reviewed.

Ministers have backed efforts to strip the serial rapist of his police pension after his offending was described as one of the worst cases involving a serving police officer that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has dealt with.

The former armed officer, who previously served in the Army, faced complaints about his behaviour before he joined the Met in 2001, then again as a probationer in 2002 and several times throughout his policing career until 2021.

He met women on dating apps or while out socially, using his job to reassure and then intimidate them. He kept some locked in a tiny cupboard for hours, beat them and urinated on them.

But he was only suspended from duty in October 2021 when arrested for rape.

Asked by MPs how Carrick was allowed to serve as a police officer, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke said: “I think it is quite clear that there have been significant failures throughout this.

“The offences committed by this individual are absolutely despicable and no individual should be allowed anywhere near a police uniform who is that way inclined and policing needs to get better at rooting out these individuals earlier.”

Steve Hartshorn, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales which represents more than 130,000 rank-and-file officers, later told the Commons Home Affairs Committee “we are absolutely disgusted by what has happened”, adding that the organisation would be “pushing for the changes that are needed to try and get back the confidence that is so definitely needed” from the public.

Asked what changes are needed, he said: “I think initially, you’ve got to look at leadership… there does need to be cultural change. There needs to be a proper victim-led approach so that when somebody comes forward… they are supported properly.”