A Call to End Overly Intrusive Vetting Practices

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2019 Police & Justice Service Group Conference
7 June 2019

Conference recognises the necessity for all police staff and officers to undergo vetting checks before a career in the police service begins. It is also acknowledged that these checks need to be reviewed at regular intervals, for the safety of staff, the public and the police service.

However, many Forces are overreaching their authority by demanding that staff being vetted provide details of personal email accounts, social media accounts, user names for interactive gaming and more. Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights guarantees respect for a person’s private and family life, yet in search of what is deemed ‘open source material,’ Force vetting is demanding that our members provide their personal details without the contractual authority to do so.

Once details are provided, our members’ personal social media accounts are being thoroughly trawled through and members are being threatened with failed vetting and some are being disciplined through gross misconduct hearings.  Postings or repostings of a political nature, anything with swear words or news items that mention the Force have all been deemed inappropriate despite no mention in the social media account that the person works for the constabulary.

Open sourced information is material that can be found through a basic internet search of a person’s name; there is no requirement for the member to provide the details themselves.  Of equal concern is what is done with the information found, where individuals are being managed as though the postings were on an official Force social media account.

Conference calls on the Service Group Executive (SGE) to consider necessary guidance to Branches and members on what members must provide to Force vetting departments and what information is inappropriate to be asked.