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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 March, 2004, 18:23 GMT
Police get Soham 'wake-up' call
Sir Keith Povey arriving at the Bichard Inquiry
Sir Keith Povey said the inquiry could be a catalyst for change
The inquiry into procedures which let Ian Huntley get a job at a school was a "wake-up" call for police, the chief inspector of constabulary has said.

Sir Keith Povey was giving evidence at the Bichard Inquiry into how flaws in intelligence handling and vetting allowed the Soham killer get his job.

He had earlier told the inquiry there was a need for national standards on intelligence handling and recording.

The inquiry might act as a "catalyst" for this to happen, Sir Keith said.

Record retention

A major focus of the inquiry has been the importance of retaining information about people questioned by police - even those who are never charged with a crime.

Sir Keith said such considerations had not registered on the "radar" of the inspectorate, which carries out inspections of forces every three years.

I would need the wisdom of Solomon for my team to sit down and identify this as a real aspect for national concern
Sir Keith Povey
Chief inspector of constabulary

"Retention of records is a very, very small part of [intelligence use] and has not featured as an issue in the past," he told the inquiry in London.

"I would need the wisdom of Solomon for my team to sit down and identify this as a real aspect for national concern.

"This is a wake-up call that puts it as a priority."

In a warning about other areas of policing that may need inspection but were not on the inspectorate's "risk radar", Sir Keith said: "I have no doubt there are a lot of other systems lying dormant that we don't inspect against because they are not identified anywhere.

"Who knows what will happen tomorrow or in the future?"

Previous allegations

After chairman Sir Michael Bichard questioned this pessimistic stance, Sir Keith said he did not expect a "raft of things out there of the magnitude that would cause an inquiry of this kind, but I'd be a very brave chief [inspector] if I said no, everything is fine out there."

Ian Huntley
Huntley, 29, is serving life in jail

In a written submission in January, Sir Keith had criticised both Humberside and Cambridgeshire police for failings which allowed Huntley - who had previously been accused of sexual assault and having sex with an underage girl - get a school caretaker job in Soham, Cambridgeshire.

Huntley was later jailed for life for murdering 10-year-old friends Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

Sir Keith said police had failed to caution Huntley following sex allegations in 1995.

He added that, had Huntley been cautioned, a record would have been entered on the National Police Computer, and it was unlikely he would have been given the job.

Missed deadline

Humberside police, who dealt with the allegations, did not retain any of the records and even deleted an intelligence report that warned Huntley was a "serial sex attacker".

Sir Keith said it was one of six forces which will be six months late in meeting an April deadline for implementing the national intelligence model.

Counsel to the inquiry James Eadie said: "That's pretty serious isn't it?"

Sir Keith said: "Yes it is."

The model provides a framework for managing intelligence and the activity that flows from it, whether strategy, co-ordination, working with partners or managing risk, the inquiry heard.

Sir Keith emphasised that there was a need for a national standard for sharing intelligence.

In some cases computer databases within forces could not communicate with each other, nor other forces.

"This inquiry might be a catalyst for something that has to be addressed in a national way."


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