THAMES Valley Police missed five opportunities to catch an officer who sexually abused a young child.

The police force carried out an internal review into the vetting of former PC Luke Horner, 24, who was based at Amersham Police Station.

He was jailed on October 6 at Northampton Crown Court to six years and four months imprisonment for engaging in penetrative sex with a child aged 13-15.

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The incident took place while he was off-duty in Rushden, Northamptonshire, on June 11 this year. 

A report released on Wednesday (October 25) by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) revealed that Horner had been reported for having cannabis in his work tray, taking evidence home in his bag, and pointing a taser at a colleague.

HMICFRS concluded that though the force could not have anticipated he would commit sexual offences, there were at least five other opportunities to take stricter action against him.

It was also discovered that the vetting clearance was carried out consistently with the vetting-decision making at the time.

The force stated: “We note the HMICFRS indication that the force could not have reasonably anticipated that PC Horner would carry out such an abhorrent offence.

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“The report also makes clear the HMICFRS peer inspector, who is a subject matter expert, reviewed former PC Horner’s vetting file and agreed with the force’s decision to grant initial vetting clearance, a decision which was consistent with vetting decision-making at the time.

“The same conclusion was drawn by the independent police vetting review. Nevertheless, we take each of the opportunities identified by HMICFRS in its review seriously.

“Before this targeted review the Force has made changes to its vetting processes as part of national recommendations made to all forces.”

The changes, made in April, include more in-depth research on applicants and more vetting interviews.

Thames Valley Police Deputy Chief Constable Ben Snuggs said: “Our thoughts remain with the young girl and her family who have been affected by Horner's criminal behaviour. Such behaviour has no place in policing or in society.

 "We are grateful for HMICFRS’ insight. In its report, HMICFRS highlights we could not have anticipated that Horner would end up committing such abhorrent sexual offences against a child. It also agreed with our decision to grant vetting clearance, and that our processes were consistent with national practice at the time.

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 “We will review each of the HMICFRS recommendations carefully to ensure that any further changes to our processes are made. 

“We want to help build a police service the public trusts in and will continue to remove those who have no place in policing.”