IOPC launches multiple investigations into handling of reports about David Carrick

Published: 20 Jul 2023

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is using a rarely-used power to begin multiple independent investigations into concerns that Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officers repeatedly failed to take appropriate action when serious criminal allegations were made against serial rapist David Carrick while he was a police officer.

We have taken this unusual step after being concerned the MPS did not identify any conduct matters at the conclusion of a review we asked it to undertake last year, into any reports which could have led to action being taken against Carrick sooner.

Our own review, which we began in February 2023 following a request from the Met, found there was enough evidence to launch four separate investigations into the conduct of eight MPS officers and one staff member.

So we have used our “power of initiative*” to immediately launch these independent investigations.

One of the investigations will look carefully at a 2002 allegation of harassment made against Carrick by a former partner. Carrick was a probationary constable at the time and, if subject to a disciplinary investigation at that time, he potentially could have been removed from the force and stripped of his status as a police officer.

This allegation was investigated by the MPS but no referral was made to its Department of Professional Standards (DPS) – which investigates the conduct of MPS officers and staff - and Carrick was only spoken to by his line manager.

The other three cases where we are independently investigating the role of MPS officers are:

  • A 2016 report of harassment and stalking made by a former partner, which was investigated by Hampshire Constabulary. No further action was taken in respect of the alleged crimes, but Hampshire made the Met’s DPS aware of the allegations made against Carrick.
  • A 2019 report of a woman being attacked and dragged out of Carrick’s house by him, which was investigated by Hertfordshire Constabulary. No further action was taken in respect of the alleged crime but Hertfordshire made the Met’s DPS aware of the allegations made against Carrick.
  • A February 2021 report of a woman being raped by Carrick. This was initially recorded by Sussex Police and, when Carrick was identified as the suspect, due to the location of the offence, it was passed on to Hertfordshire Constabulary.

In each of these three cases, misconduct investigations were started by the Met’s DPS but were not progressed after forces investigating the allegations against Carrick advised that no further action was being taken. As a result, Carrick never faced disciplinary action for any of the serious allegations made and remained a police officer until his arrest in October 2021.

Due to serious concerns over the magnitude and timeline of Carrick’s offending, in October and November 2022 we wrote to the MPS and other forces** who had potentially come into contact with him between 2001 and 2021, requesting they review any contacts, to identify whether there had been any failures by officers to investigate or bring disciplinary proceedings against Carrick, and to seek assurance that any conduct issues identified would be referred to the IOPC.

The MPS, along with the other forces, did not raise any conduct concerns however, given public concern, the MPS asked us to review these assessments for additional assurance that there were no apparent conduct issues regarding failures to properly investigate allegations made against Carrick.

We did identify conduct matters for eight MPS officers and one police staff member over their handling of allegations made against Carrick. These conduct matters centre on apparent failures to progress misconduct investigations against Carrick after criminal investigations into his behaviour were dropped.

The officers involved, some of whom have since retired and one who now works for another force, range in rank from police constable to chief inspector. Six of the people being investigated were, at the time, from the Met’s DPS.

IOPC regional director Mel Palmer said: “David Carrick’s horrendous offending, which occurred over almost two decades while he remained a police officer, shocked the public and cast a dark shadow on policing, and we want to acknowledge the courage of his victims in reporting this offending.

“The nature and extent of his offending also raised serious questions about whether disciplinary action should have been taken against him when serious allegations were made about his behaviour.

“The police forces did not record any conduct matters arising from their handling of allegations against Carrick, however we identified indications some officers may have behaved in a manner which would justify disciplinary proceedings.

“Our review has identified repeated failures to progress conduct investigations when the Met’s DPS officers were advised that no further action was being taken by the forces carrying out the criminal investigations into Carrick.

“We were also deeply concerned to find that in respect of two of the cases, David Carrick’s name was removed from the MPS’s system records after the criminal investigations were dropped. This meant that some prior allegations made against Carrick did not show up in the system when further allegations were later made, leading to MPS officers being unable to build a complete picture of his pattern of offending.

“These were potentially missed opportunities to pursue gross misconduct investigations against Carrick, which may have led to his dismissal years before he was eventually arrested.

“We will now be investigating the conduct of the officers involved in these cases, and at the end of our investigations we will determine whether they should face disciplinary proceedings.

“The issue of forces not progressing conduct investigations against officers when no further action is being taken against them criminally is an ongoing area of concern that we highlighted nationally last year as a result of the joint investigation into the super-complaint regarding police perpetrated domestic abuse (PPDA). 

“Where there is not enough evidence to pursue a criminal case, misconduct should still be considered. This is because there are different standards, procedures and evidential requirements for disciplinary proceedings compared to criminal investigations.”

As part of our Carrick review, we are also considering learning recommendations for the individual forces as well as for organisations working nationally, including the National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing.

These include areas such as vetting; the police approach to off-duty conduct; explaining the difference between criminal prosecutions and police disciplinary proceedings to encourage victims’ support of investigations; and adding a mandatory ‘police perpetrated’ flag to crime recording systems.

In due course we will issue the recommendations*** to the relevant forces/organisations.

We have also recently begun an independent investigation into concerns that Wiltshire Police officers failed to properly investigate a report made against Carrick in 2016.

Our investigation began following a voluntary conduct referral from the force in July 2023. This was the first time we were made aware of this matter and the investigation is in its initial stages.

We are aware of the investigation into Carrick’s offending that is being carried out by the team involved in the Angiolini Inquiry as part of its wider review. We are sharing the findings of our review and the underlying evidence with the Inquiry team to support its investigation.

  • City of London Police
  • Hampshire Constabulary
  • Metropolitan Police Service
  • Sussex Police
  • Wiltshire Police
  • Corruption and abuse of power