Thames Valley Police statement following HMICFRS report into former officers’ vetting
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Today (25/10), His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has released its findings following a review into the vetting of former PC Luke Horner.
Horner, aged 24, who was based at Amersham police station, was sentenced on 6 October, at Northampton Crown Court to six years’ and four months’ imprisonment, for engaging in penetrative sex with a child aged 13-15.
Horner, was convicted last month following an incident that took place while he was off-duty in Rushden, Northamptonshire, on 11 June 2023, involving the sexual assault of a teenage girl.
Following the report received and in parallel with the criminal investigation by Northamptonshire Police, the Force immediately suspended Horner, referred the case to the Independent Office for Police Conduct to instigate misconduct procedures and requested a vetting review by an independent police force.
Additionally the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner requested a targeted review by HMICFRS into the decisions around this incident to seek any wider learning.
We note the HMICFRS indication that the force could not have reasonably anticipated that PC Horner would carry out such an abhorrent offence.
The report also makes clear the HMICFRS peer inspector, who is a subject matter expert, reviewed former PC Horner’s vetting file and agreed with the force’s decision to grant initial vetting clearance, a decision which was consistent with vetting decision making at the time. The same conclusion was drawn by the independent police vetting review.
Additionally the review is not critical of the outcome of the Counter Corruption investigation carried out into Horner following information being received to the Force in February 2022 prior to the incident on 11 June 2023.
Nevertheless, we take each of the opportunities identified by HMICFRS in its review seriously. Before this targeted review the Force has made changes to its vetting processes as part of national recommendations made to all Forces:
In April of this year Thames Valley Police made a significant investment of staff in to the Central Vetting Unit. In support of this a bespoke and detailed training course was developed that provided an opportunity to refresh training for all staff in line with APP and HMICFRS recommendations. As a consequence, the Central Vetting Unit:
Conducts more in depth research on applicants
Completes an increased number of vetting interviews.
Has improved recording of decision making and rationale.
Additionally there is a consistent drive for information sharing between the Central Vetting Unit and the Counter Corruption team through business as usual process as well as the development of a People Intelligence Meeting.
We have also commissioned an improved IT system to support vetting process which also aligns to best practice nationally.
Thames Valley Police Deputy Chief Constable Ben Snuggs said: “Our thoughts remain with the young girl and her family who have been affected by Horner's criminal behaviour. Such behaviour has no place in policing or in society.
"We are grateful for HMICFRS’ insight. In its report, HMICFRS highlights we could not have anticipated that Horner would end up committing such abhorrent sexual offences against a child. It also agreed with our decision to grant vetting clearance, and that our processes were consistent with national practice at the time.
“We will review each of the HMICFRS recommendations carefully to ensure that any further changes to our processes are made.
“We want to help build a police service the public trusts in and will continue to remove those who have no place in policing.”