Police managers told to introduce policies to protect whistle-blowers

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A dedicated whistle-blowing policy should be brought into the police service following the death of a senior officer under investigation over claims he sexually harassed women colleagues, a review has found.

David Ainsworth, 49, deputy chief constable of Wiltshire Police, hanged himself in his garage in March last year fearing he would “lose everything” and believing his family would be better off without him if he took his own life.

Lessons must be learned from the “deeply tragic circumstances”, a whistle-blowing policy should be brought in and force vetting procedures should be reviewed, a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has proposed.

A “dedicated ‘whistle-blowing’ policy that allows issues to be reviewed in a timely and transparent manner, promoting trust and confidence in the organisation” could help “embed equality and diversity into the core of the organisation and its culture”, the report said.

The HMIC report also said force vetting procedures should also be reviewed, in particular those policies for chief officers and how they are applied.

“The level of vetting required is determined by the nature of the role and the level of restricted information that is regularly accessed, not the rank of the officer. It should be completed on appointment to a new role that requires a different level of vetting, or at the regular review periods set out in vetting arrangements,” the report said.

“There were apparent failures in the operation of the vetting system in Mr Ainsworth’s case,” it added.