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Home Office in the media

Home Office in the media: Friday 27 September

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Home Office in the media

Today's leading stories include reports into police abuse of power and the failings of Cleveland Police, as well as the investigation into drone incidents at Gatwick Airport.

Police abuse of power

There is widespread coverage of the HMICFRS report into police abuse of power, with the Times, Telegraph, Mail, Guardian, BBC Breakfast and Today Programme reporting that a large number of police officers could be exploiting their positions to sexually abuse vulnerable people.

The report shows that up to half of serving officers and staff – around 35,000 - have not had appropriate background checks. It adds that vetting, described as the “first line of defence” against sexual predatory behaviour among officers, is not being undertaken at the required level in many forces.

The Guardian singles out West Midlands Police, reporting that 52 per cent of staff and officers are not vetted. At the Metropolitan Police, this figure was 37 per cent.

The paper carries comments from Zoe Billingham, from the Inspectorate, who calls on police forces to do “all they can to prevent, detect and deal with this serious form of corruption”.

Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire Kit Malthouse said:

Abuse of police powers and privileges for a sexual purpose is devastating for those affected, but it is also a betrayal of the vast majority of police officers who act with honesty and integrity, putting themselves in harm’s way to protect the public.

HMICFRS’ report shows that police forces recognise the seriousness of this form of corruption and are referring more cases to the Independent Office of Police Conduct - but more needs to be done to prevent and detect abuse of position.

The Home Office takes police integrity very seriously and expects all forces to carefully consider the report’s recommendations and take action.

Cleveland Police

Further to the above, there is widespread coverage of another HMICFRS report into the effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy of individual forces, with the Times, Telegraph, Sun, Independent, Star, and Mail reporting that Cleveland Police is the first force in Britain to be declared failing.

The coverage states that the force is now effectively in special measures.

The papers carry comments from Phil Gormley, the HM Inspector of Constabulary, who said it was a "failing force" where there had been "significant" deterioration in the last two years. He said the force doesn't appropriately prioritise crime prevention, fails to respond appropriately to vulnerable people, and doesn’t have a coherent workforce and financial plans “to meet demand and deliver the necessary outcomes for the public".

According to the Times, the Home Secretary may be forced to step in if significant improvements are not made.

Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire Kit Malthouse said:

Transparency and accountability are vital for public trust in policing and we welcome the report from Her Majesty’s inspectorate on the problems within Cleveland Police Force.

New Chief Constable Richard Lewis is in the process of reforming the force and has made an immediate start on a recovery plan.

We welcome his swift action to address these failings and will be monitoring the position closely.

Gatwick Drone Probe

The Telegraph, Mail, BBC Breakfast and Today Programme have reported on the closure of the police investigation into the drones incident at Gatwick Airport in December.

They all report that nobody has been charged and there will be no further arrests due to Sussex Police having no "realistic lines of inquiry".

Reporting states that the investigation involved 1,200 door-to-door inquiries, along with the searching of 25 potential drone take-off and landing zones around the airport.

It is further reported that the police investigation cost £800,000.

A Government spokesperson said:

The incident at Gatwick over Christmas endangered the public and we are grateful to the police for the work that they have carried out, both at the time and during the subsequent investigation.

The Government has been working to develop the UK’s capability to identify malicious drone use and respond appropriately.

We will also shortly be introducing an Unmanned Aircraft Bill, which will give police enhanced powers to enforce drone-related rules. We are clear that anyone putting others at risk will face severe penalties – including possible life imprisonment.

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