PRIVATE social media groups used by prospective police officers hoping to join the force cannot always be viewed during vetting processes, a police chief has said.

Speaking at the monthly performance and accountability meeting this afternoon, Chief Constable of Sussex Police Jo Shiner said the force vets the social media accounts of prospective officers, but that some content can be hidden.

Speaking to Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Katy Bourne, she said: “We use open-source enquiries, for example, search engines, social media sites, but we do need to be clear with that.

“Actually, if they are part of a closed group, which has security settings, then we won’t always pick up actually some of the content of that group if it is closed.

“So that’s why it’s open-source enquiries.”

Sussex Police vets all potential officers, volunteers, and new recruits in line with the College of Policing vetting code of practice, which includes checks on police databases as well as financial and voter records.

The chief constable said she wanted to “reassure” the public that a number of checks are carried out prior to anyone taking up a role, and that further vetting takes place for officers depending on their role in the force.

Earlier this month, Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick called for a national review of police vetting standards following the murder of Sarah Everard by serving police-officer Wayne Couzons.

PCC Katy Bourne said: “I’m glad that there’s something being done nationally because obviously there are some trigger offences potentially that allow you still to become a police officer that perhaps should be looked at.”

The meeting, which was broadcast live online, was called to address the renewed, national conversation about violence against women and girls following the murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nassa.

Chief Constable Shiner said Sussex Police is working hard to rebuild trust in the police by listening the ways victims, women and girls think they could be better protected.

She said: “We have redoubled our efforts to increase the number of criminal justice outcomes for cases in terms of domestic and sexual violence by working collaboratively with partners.

“We are also continuing to invest in a range of initiatives that I am really proud to say, that as a force, because of Covid, we were able to get an early start of some of those initiatives, particularly regarding domestic abuse and violence.

“I accept that there is more that we can do and there is probably always more that we can do because we always want to try and continually improve our service and all I do is say to you is that we will continue to listen and act.”

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