It comes after news that former Met Police officer David Carrick was exposed as a serial rapist, seeing calls for reforms to make it easier to catch other serving offenders.
Chief Constable of the British Transport Police (BTP) Lucy D’Orsi expressed her shame and anger that a fellow officer had been free to carry out his 18-year campaign of abuse.
Meanwhile, Humberside Police’s Chief Constable, Lee Freeman, called it “one of the darkest weeks for policing that I have known” in his career of nearly three decades.
Police chiefs have begun to share their concerns after Monday (January 16) saw former Metropolitan Police officer Carrick, 48, admit to 49 criminal charges including 24 counts of rape against 12 women, making him one of the UK’s most prolific known sex offenders.
Before joining the force in 2001, Carrick had faced complaints about his behaviour, then again as a probationer in 2002 and numerous times throughout his policing career until 2021.
In October 2021, he was suspended from duty when he was arrested for rape, and his pay was finally stopped in December 2022 when he admitted the majority of the criminal charges he faced.
On Tuesday (January 17) Carrick was sacked from the force after using his position within its ranks at first to win over his victims’ trust and later to intimidate them.
Now Ms D’Orsi, has earned of gaps in the current system that could allow other serving offenders to “fall through the cracks” and called for a debate on “regulatory reform”.
She shared: “If I was to commit a crime, get arrested and give my details, there is no obvious system check that would flag that I’m a police officer if I didn’t choose to tell them.
“Yes, you read that correctly. On arrest, my DNA and prints would be taken and checked against national forensics databases.
Commissioner: There are cases where we should have been more assertive, throw officers out, and haven’t.
We’ll turn those stones over and come to the right conclusions. We’ll be ruthless about rooting out those who corrupt our integrity.
You have my absolute assurance on that.
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) January 17, 2023 “Even though I’ve provided my biometric samples to the police (my employer), the datasets are not run together to identify a match.
“As it stands today, I could be arrested by the police and nobody but me would know I am the police. In my view, this is a priority issue for our attention. Otherwise, others could fall through the cracks and go on to do harm.”
She added: “It’s about time we understood and closed the gaps.”
The chief constable also stated that she was “angry” that Carrick used his status to gravely harm women and felt “shameful” that he was free to abuse his victims for so long without alarm bells ringing.
“At times like this, I find myself awake at night wondering how we can strengthen our approach, stopping the likes of Pc Carrick from the very moment an allegation is made,” she added.
We condemn the appalling criminal actions of serving police officer David Carrick.
Carrick has pleaded guilty to multiple rapes and serious sexual offences – he preyed on women over a period of many years, abusing his position as a police officer.
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) January 16, 2023 Her thoughts were echoed by Mr Freeman, who said public trust in the profession will continue to erode unless police move from being “the silent majority to being active guardians of our culture and behaviours”.
“Here in Humberside, I feel that we have a collective responsibility to reflect and recognise that the events in London also directly impact on us and how our communities see us,” he said.
“Indeed, this is already having an impact.
“I feel that the case of Carrick, along with other prominent cases that regrettably precede it, means police legitimacy is hanging by a thread.”
Mr Freeman said it is “hollow and indefensible” to claim incidents in which officers use their status for sexual gain or misconduct are similar to cases in other professions where teachers or doctors have abused their position to cause harm.
“(That) fails to recognise the unique position that policing has in a liberal democracy,” he said.
“As members of the police service, many of us have the right to take away another person’s liberty, by the use of force if necessary, and detain them for up to an initial 24 hours.
“This power is conferred to us on the basis that everyone of us is completely trusted.
“Right now, I feel that this trust has been severely damaged.”