New report states police missed five opportunities to scrutinise conduct of Aylesbury officer convicted of sex crime
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A new independent report has found that Thames Valley Police missed opportunities to closely scrutinise an officer who went on to commit sexual offences involving a teenage girl.
Analysis published by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services shows that PC Luke Horner’s actions could have been more closely investigated on five occasions.
Former PC Horner was convicted of engaging in penetrative sex with a child aged 13 and sentenced to six years and four months in jail.
HMICFRS found that stricter action could have been taken against the officer, and this could have potentially led to a dismissal for gross misconduct.
However, the report concluded that the police force could not have anticipated the disgraced officer would have committed such a serious offence.
Before the 24-year-old, who previously lived in Aylesbury, and worked out of Amersham station, inspectors believe more should have been done to vet the officer.
Further inquiries into why the PC left the army could have been made, and more attention could paid to an incident where Horner called the police believing he had been accused of sexual assault.
Whilst serving as an officer there were further incidents which should have caused the police force to question the 24-year-old’s integrity, the report states.
If different steps had been taken when Thames Valley Police officials were made aware of these incidents, and had these occurrences been considered as one, HMICFRS believes it would have been clear PC Horner was not suited to being a police officer.
HMICFRS inspector, Roy Wilsher, said: “Having robust vetting processes is vital for forces in being able to identify any misconduct, dismiss officers and staff if they are not fit for the job and prevent unsuitable officers joining in the first place.
“While we found that Thames Valley Police could not have reasonably anticipated PC Horner would commit such an abhorrent crime, we found at least five lost opportunities where the force could have taken stricter action against him.
“It is very clear, particularly when considered alongside other incidents which took place during his police service, PC Horner was not suited to being a police officer.
“We have identified several areas of learning which we encourage the force to address. We will revisit the force as part of our rolling programme of inspections in 2024 and will look at their vetting, professional standards and counter-corruption arrangements in more detail.”
The investigation into Horner was commissioned by Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber.
PCC Barber said: “While HMICFRS concluded that the crime committed by Luke Horner could not have been anticipated by Thames Valley Police, it is apparent from its report that there are a number of areas of learning for the Force to improve how it manages intelligence and information.
"I expect the Chief Constable to be acting on the learning points identified through the inspection and will be monitoring the implementation of those changes over the coming months.
“I also welcome HMICFRS’s decision to visit Thames Valley Police in 2024 to look at its vetting, professional standards and counter-corruption arrangements in more detail.”