Sunak and Rowley pledge action to tackle abuse of power following Carrick case

Rishi Sunak and Metropolitan Police chief Sir Mark Rowley have promised action to prevent another case like the “absolutely despicable” David Carrick.

The Prime Minister promised reforms to make sure rogue police officers have “no place to hide” following the abuse of power by serial sex offender Carrick.

He 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.

On a joint visit to a London police station with Sir Mark, the Prime Minister said they had “constructive” talks and he “made clear to him – and he agrees – that the abuse of power that we have seen this week is absolutely despicable and it needs to be addressed immediately”.

He said: “All police forces across the country have been told to check all of their serving officers and staff against national police databases to identify and root out anybody who shouldn’t be serving.

“The Government has done a huge amount already to protect the safety of women and girls, but we will keep going and doing whatever it takes to ensure that women and girls feel safe and can go about their lives, freely and without fear.”

Carrick, 48, 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.

Following his talks with Sir Mark, the Prime Minister said he wanted to ensure there were no serving officers who should not longer be in the police.

“The national police database contains a variety of information about people against which those individuals can be re-checked,” the Prime Minister said.

“It’s important that we do that immediately and police forces carry that out to identify and root out anyone who’s not fit to serve.”

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Earlier, at Prime Minister’s Questions, 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.”

He said there should be “no place to hide for those who use their position to intimidate women and girls” or those who have failed to act to stop them.

Sir Mark said officers were vetted and procedures had been tightened but “what we’ve realised is we haven’t always done it well enough”.

“So we’re double checking by running existing people against the big databases, we’re going back and checking some closed cases to make sure we got decisions right, so we’re doing lots of belts and braces to look for any of the problems in the organisation.”

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Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley (Carl de Souza/PA)

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.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper called such a move the “bare minimum”.

“It’s frankly shocking that it doesn’t already happen,” the Labour MP said.

“The Government’s response has been completely underwhelming.

“All we get are warm words from the Home Secretary and Prime Minister while in practice they have walked away from taking national action to improve police standards.”

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.

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”.

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Serial rapist David Carrick was sacked from the police after admitting a string of crimes (Hertfordshire Police/PA)

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 Carrick 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.”

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” and “there does need to be cultural change”.