Chief Constable Sarah Crew of Avon and Somerset Police has insisted things have changed at the force since the To Catch A Copper documentary was filmed

By John Wimperis - Local Democracy Reporter

14th Feb 2024 | Local News

The Avon and Somerset force let the Channel 4 cameras in, image Nub News
The Avon and Somerset force let the Channel 4 cameras in, image Nub News

The chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police has insisted that things have changed since the shocking events seen in the recent To Catch A Copper TV documentary.

The Channel 4 documentary — the third and final episode of which aired on Monday night (February 12) — took a look into the force's own real-life AC-12 investigating misconduct by officers. But many viewers have been shocked by how little repercussions officers seemed to face.

Meanwhile, many serving officers have felt "let down" by the documentary which has been criticised by the Avon and Somerset Police Federation. In an anonymous comment, one officer said: "I feel disappointed that the force has put me in the position of having to defend myself as a good police officer."

At Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Shelford's regular performance and accountability board on February 13, he said some of the officers' behaviour shown in the documentary had been "truly appalling" and "absolutely disgusting."

Chief Constable Sarah Crew told him: "It's important to recognise that most of our officers and staff provide excellent service to the public and they really want to see poor standards and behaviour tackled."

She said: "Policing is a difficult and challenging job and we saw a bit of that in the documentary. And people in policing are human and they make mistakes, and honest mistakes with good intent in Avon and Somerset will always be dealt with as such. And mistakes for which we often apologise but from which we learn both as individuals and the organisation."

But she added: "Where the intent is bad, its criminal, its in breach of our standards of professional behaviour, or indeed where it offends our values then be assured misconduct processes will follow and where misconduct is serious, my default position as chief constable is that there is no place in Avon and Somerset for those people."

She said: "Most reports into our counter-corruption unit come from colleagues, and I see that as a really positive thing."

CC Crew insisted that things had changed since the documentary was filmed over the course of four years. She said: "Quite a lot has happened since then."

She said that the professional standards department had been increased by 25% and had a dedicated inspector, and that the force had run a campaign on sexual misconduct and a "race matters" programme to tackle disproportionality. She added that the force's vetting processes had also been strengthened, and the force was checking people not just when they were hired but throughout their careers.

CC Crew added that the force had conducted an in-depth review of its own culture through the last year. She said: "We recognise it's through culture that we will drive that public confidence."

Speaking to BBC Points West later that day, CC Crew said: "What we are seeing in this documentary are the exception, not the rule."

But she defended the documentary to host David Garmston, stating: "There have been incidents that have happened across the country and we have seen some in Avon and Somerset where confidence is dented and it's important we face up to that and we do something about it."


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