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Police working ‘at a pace’ to clear backlog of officer and staff vetting checks

Suffolk police said staff issues had been resolved in the vetting unit  Picture: ARCHANT

Suffolk police said staff issues had been resolved in the vetting unit Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Police have insisted they are working hard to deal with a backlog of outstanding vetting checks for officers and staff.

Suffolk Constabulary faced a surplus of background check renewals for the existing workforce – due partly to resource pressures and an increase in the level of scrutiny required.

Auditors reported there were 2,000 outstanding renewals across Suffolk and Norfolk at one point during the last year.

Vetting can include criminal and national security checks, credit history, business interests and details of family members.

The stringency and frequency with which checks are required depends on the level of access granted to premises, sensitive information and IT systems.

A follow-up of internal audit recommendations also reported that the backlog of new applications waiting to be processed increased from 35 in June 2019 to 548 in December.

As a result, proactive renewal vetting was stopped between September and December to ensure new applications were processed as a priority.

A report to the police and crime commissioner’s audit committee said the backlog had come amid significant change in the joint constabulary vetting unit with four experienced staff leaving and two applying to work part time.

Suffolk police said staff issues had now been resolved and that the unit was working at capacity to reduce the number of outstanding renewals, which had now stabilised.

A spokesman said work continued at a pace to ensure full compliance with authorised professional practice (APP).

Meanwhile, discussions are underway to establish a single interpretation of (APP) across the seven-force collaboration between Suffolk and surrounding counties – meaning officers and staff moving between the seven forces may not require new vetting.

Following a meeting of the audit committee last week, Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said he was reassured that the backlog of vetting for new applicants had been drastically reduced and that the outstanding renewals for existing officers and staff was also in hand, adding: “The public can rest assured that the duration is now as short as I’ve known it to be.

“It’s an important, belt-and-braces process which has to be done properly to safeguard the public and colleagues.”


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