Not all Police Scotland officers have a vetting record, according to a review by His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland.

Craig Naylor described this as a “significant risk” and called for all personnel to be re-vetted “at least every decade”.

He said: “I do not believe that any officers or staff should be able to go through the entirety of their service having only been vetted at the time of their recruitment.”

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The His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) review found that before the single force was created in 2014, vetting was “varied, inconsistent and not always recorded effectively”, but since the late 2000s this has improved, and vetting currently conducted is of a “good standard”.

The report states: “No check nor review of officers and staff employed by the legacy forces was carried out when the new organisation began and some have no vetting record.”

There is “no clear process” for Police Scotland workers to advise of a criminal conviction or a significant change in personal circumstances such as a new partner or address.

It also found a “disproportionate” number of cases where the “appropriate refusal of vetting has been overturned and clearance granted”.

The watchdog flagged these historical cases to Police Scotland’s force vetting manager and the anti-corruption unit so they can assess risk and whether clearance remains appropriate.

Among 15 recommendations, Mr Naylor called for a new law to be created by the Scottish Government to ensure a minimum level of vetting for all in Police Scotland and to enable the Chief Constable to sack anyone who cannot maintain suitable vetting.

He also called for annual integrity reviews to be held which would note any change in personal circumstances to help identify risks.

These changes should be prioritised above the random review of recruitment vetting for 3-5% of officers and staff, which Police Scotland has already announced, the watchdog said.

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Mr Naylor also called for vetting clearance to be reviewed following misconduct proceedings.

He said: “A thorough and effective vetting regime is vitally important to assess a person’s integrity and it reassures the public appropriate checks have been carried out on those who are placed in a position of trust.

“There is no doubt the public’s confidence in and the reputation of policing has been damaged by officers who have behaved inappropriately and broken the law.

“Significant steps have been undertaken following recent high profile cases in England to ensure that officers and staff have been checked and any risks identified, highlighted and managed appropriately.

“Losing intelligence to terrorists or serious organised criminals is a threat which Police Scotland rightly takes seriously but exposing a vulnerable person to an individual who wishes to harm them is, to me, abhorrent and steps need to be taken to provide assurance that the protection of the vulnerable is prioritised.”

The review followed Metropolitan Police officer David Carrick being sacked after being unmasked as a serial rapist.

HMICS independently reviewed 870 vetting case files which had been completed by Police Scotland’s force vetting unit staff between 2019 and 2022.

Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Alan Speirs said: “The safeguarding of our values and standards has never been stronger and HMICS rightly highlights the high standards of our vetting.

“Over 5,000 officers and staff are vetted to an enhanced level with annual reviews and we will ensure all roles have the right clearance levels.

“We’ve invested to enable additional checks for new recruits before they are sworn into office and, working with staff associations and unions, we are introducing a programme of re-vetting.

“We know the onus is on us to earn public confidence and will carefully review this report to identify any further improvements which can strengthen our vetting.”

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Speaking to reporters in Blantyre, South Lanarkshire, First Minister Humza Yousaf said the government would consider the review's findings.

He added: “I think there’s a recommendation for the Scottish Government in terms of potential legislation, we’ll give that full consideration, as you’d imagine we would with a report of this nature.

“When it comes to the creation of Police Scotland, the report made it clear that there are vetting procedures in place for new officers coming into the service. There are some recommendations for what to do for those legacy officers who entered the force pre the creation of Police Scotland.”

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Russell Findlay said: “Rogue police officers not only pose a risk to the public but also to the reputation of Police Scotland and the vast majority of good officers.

“In the wake of numerous cases of serious wrongdoing, and to maintain public confidence, SNP ministers must ensure that the force has sufficient resources to conduct these vitally important background checks.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat deputy leader and former police officer, Wendy Chamberlain, called on Police Scotland to “do far more to prevent potentially dangerous individuals holding positions of authority”.