In February 2023, The Guardian published an article revealing that one in 100 UK police officers faced a criminal charge last year.* The article cited data obtained through a Freedom of Information request, which showed that 381 police officers had faced criminal charges in 2022, out of a total of around 39,000 officers.
This news highlights the importance of conducting thorough background checks on employees, especially those in positions of trust and authority. Police officers are entrusted with enforcing the law and protecting the public, and any misconduct or criminal behaviour by an officer can have serious consequences.
Background checks are an essential tool for UK employers to ensure that they are hiring trustworthy and qualified individuals. A background check typically includes verifying an applicant’s identity, employment history, education, and criminal record. By conducting these checks, employers can identify any red flags that could indicate a potential risk or liability.
In addition to police officers, there are many other examples where background checks could have helped prevent corruption or other misconduct in the UK. Here are a few additional examples:
1. Government officials
Government officials in the UK are often entrusted with significant responsibilities, such as managing public funds or making important policy decisions. Corruption among government officials can have serious consequences, including economic instability, loss of public trust, and harm to vulnerable populations.
For example, the UK expenses scandal of 2009 involved a number of Members of Parliament (MPs) who were found to have claimed expenses for items such as cleaning, furniture, and gardening that were not related to their parliamentary work. If thorough background checks had been conducted on these MPs, their misconduct may have been detected earlier, potentially preventing the significant harm caused by their actions.
Similarly, in 2012, the former UK government minister Chris Huhne was found guilty of perverting the course of justice, after he asked his wife to take the blame for a speeding offence he had committed. If background checks had been conducted on Huhne, his history of misconduct may have been uncovered, potentially preventing the harm caused to the public and the reputation of the government.
2. Healthcare professionals
Healthcare professionals in the UK, such as doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, have access to sensitive patient information and are responsible for providing safe and effective care. If such professionals have a history of medical malpractice or other misconduct, it can pose a significant risk to patients and the healthcare system as a whole.
For example, in 2015, the UK General Medical Council struck off a doctor named Myles Bradbury, after he was found to have abused child cancer patients over a number of years. If a thorough background check had been conducted on Bradbury, his history of misconduct may have been detected earlier, potentially preventing the harm he caused to his patients.
Similarly, in 2017, a healthcare assistant named Rebecca Leighton was found not guilty of tampering with saline bags at Stepping Hill Hospital, after she was initially arrested and charged with the offence. If a background check had been conducted on Leighton, her history of misconduct may have been uncovered, potentially preventing the harm she caused to patients and the reputation of the healthcare system.
3. Charities and non-profit organizations
Charities and non-profit organizations in the UK are often established to serve the public good and rely on the trust and support of donors and volunteers to achieve their mission. However, if individuals involved with such organizations have a history of fraud, embezzlement, or other misconduct, it can undermine public trust and harm the organization’s reputation.
For example, in 2016, a charity called Kids Company, which provided support to vulnerable children and young people, was forced to close after allegations of financial mismanagement and misconduct. If a thorough background check had been conducted on the charity’s founder and CEO, Camila Batmanghelidjh, her history of financial difficulties and potential conflicts of interest may have been detected earlier, potentially preventing the harm caused to the charity and its beneficiaries.
In conclusion, the case of police officers facing criminal charges in the UK highlights the importance of conducting thorough background checks on employees, especially those in positions of trust and authority. However, background checks are not limited to law enforcement and can be applied to various industries and professions. By conducting background checks, employers can identify potential red flags and take appropriate action to prevent misconduct and protect their organization’s reputation and stakeholders.
Capcon’s screening process reduces the risk of taking on employees who could damage the business both financially and reputationally.