Hundreds of sexual misconduct allegations made against serving police officers, figures reveal

Hundreds of allegations of sexual misconduct were made against serving police officers across Britain over five years.

Oct 11, 2021
By Website Editor

Figures from 31 police forces obtained by RADAR under the Freedom of Information Act (FoI) reveal at least 750 accusations were made against officers between 2016 and 2020.

The FoI asked forces in England, Wales and Scotland how many complaints of sexual assault were made against serving police officers in each of these years.

Complaints could relate to historical allegations and most, where the gender was recorded, were against male officers, the data shows.

The responses did not indicate whether any of the officers were on duty at the time of the alleged incidents.

Of the total number of cases logged by forces over the five years, at least 34 resulted in dismissals.

In at least seven cases, an officer was listed as having either resigned or been dismissed, and at least six officers would have been dismissed if they had not resigned first.

At least one officer resigned before a misconduct hearing, and in one case the officer was listed as deceased.

Not all forces provided a detailed breakdown of sanctions taken and one of the forces which replied to the FoI also included a small number of police staff in its response.

There are 43 police forces covering England and Wales, as well as Police Scotland and the British Transport Police.

Separate publicly available data reveals Surrey Police recorded 36 allegations of sexual misconduct against its officers over the same period, while the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) logged more than 500 claims of sexual offences against both officers and members of staff.

It comes after an independent inquiry was announced by the Home Secretary Priti Patel to look into the “systematic failures” that allowed Sarah Everard’s killer, Wayne Couzens, to be employed as a police officer.

Baroness Casey of Blackstock will lead a separate review of culture and standards at the MPS in the wake of Ms Everard’s murder.

MPS officer Couzens used his police issue handcuffs and warrant card to stage a fake arrest so he could kidnap 33-year-old Ms Everard before he raped and murdered her.

The End Violence Against Women Coalition, which includes groups such as Rape Crisis, Refuge and Women’s Aid, said few officers face “any meaningful consequences” for violence against women and girls.

Deputy director Denzi Ugur said: “We need to see a radical overhaul of how the police respond to violence against women – especially within their own ranks.

“This means greater accountability and urgent, coordinated and strategic action to address violence against women.

“Ultimately, we need to address these widespread institutional failings before we can even begin to address women’s confidence in the police.”

A publicly available response to a different freedom of information request revealed the MPS – the UK’s largest police force – recorded 530 allegations of sexual offences against serving officers and staff members between 2016 and 2020.

They were formed of public complaints and internal conduct matters, which include those raised by other members of the force.

The allegations related to 713 MPS officers and staff in total, most of whom were male (577) – though an officer or staff member may have been named in more than one allegation.

Overall, 47 claims resulted in officers or staff being dismissed without notice.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct, which oversees the police complaints system, said it was down to forces to “stamp out” any abuse of police powers.

A spokesperson said: “The abuse of police powers for purposes of sexual exploitation, or violence, has a devastating impact on victims, and a serious impact on the public’s confidence in individual officers and the service in general.

“It is critical there are effective systems in place to prevent, monitor and deal swiftly with any individual who exploits that trust.

“In the context of the police service, this behaviour is a form of corruption and should be dealt with as such.

“Each case reported represents a serious betrayal of the trust and confidence that individuals should have in the police. It is behaviour which can never be justified or condoned.”

On announcing an independent inquiry, the Home Secretary said the public needed answers to ensure an incident like the murder of Ms Everard never happened again.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “As the public would rightly expect, we take police integrity very seriously and have already taken steps to overhaul the police complaints and discipline systems in order to increase transparency and accountability.”

The Government’s independent inquiry has been welcomed by Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, who said vetting and professional standards procedures need to be scrutinised to restore public confidence.

“I think having an independent inquiry is a very good way for that to be to be dealt with to really help us provide that reassurance,” he added.

Here are the responses from 31 police forces in Britain to a FoI request by RADAR, asking for the number of sexual assault claims against serving police officers recorded between 2016 and 2020.

Some claims related to more than one officer, though an officer could also be involved in more than one case.

  • Avon and Somerset Constabulary: 12 claims, relating to 15 officers. male (11), female (2), unknown (2)
  • Bedfordshire Police: 3 claims against male officers
  • Cambridgeshire Constabulary: 10 claims, relating to 15 officers, Male (9), female (4), unknown (2)
  • Cheshire Constabulary: 10 claims against male officers
  • Cleveland Police: 13 claims, no officer sex breakdown given
  • Cumbria Constabulary: 29 claims, male (27), female (2)
  • Derbyshire Constabulary: 15 claims, male (13), unknown (2)
  • Devon and Cornwall Police: 29 claims, relating to 35 officers, male (27), female (2), unknown (6)
  • Dorset Police: 3 claims, male (2), unknown (1)
  • Durham Constabulary: 17 claims relating to 23 officers, male (22), unknown (1)
  • Gloucestershire Constabulary; 7 claims against male officers
  • Greater Manchester Police: 158 claims, male (130), female (11), unknown (17)
  • Gwent Police: 2 claims, female (1), unknown (1)
  • Hampshire Constabulary: 38 claims against male officers
  • Hertfordshire Constabulary: 27 claims – but sex breakdown only provided for the 26 officers involved in 24 closed cases, male (21), female (1), unknown (4)
  • Humberside Police: 8 claims, no officer sex breakdown given
  • Kent Police: 23 claims, relating to 25 officers, male (24), female (1)
  • Lancashire Constabulary: 26 claims, male (25), unknown (1)
  • Leicestershire Police: 20 claims, relating to 26 officers, male (at least 20), female (at least 1), unclear (3)
  • Lincolnshire Police: 17 claims against male officers
  • Merseyside Police, 9 claims, relating to 16 officers, male (14), female (1), unknown (1)
  • Norfolk Constabulary: 9 claims, male (seven), unknown (2)
  • North Wales Police: 13 claims, male (12), female (1)
  • Northumbria Police: 31 claims against male officers
  • Police Scotland: 64 claims, no officer sex breakdown given
  • South Wales Police: 25 claims relating to 26 officers, male (20), female (1), unknown (5)
  • Staffordshire Police: 11 claims, male (6), unknown (5)
  • Suffolk Constabulary: 14 claims, relating to 18 officers, male (14), female (1), unknown (3)
  • Sussex Police: 15 complaints, male (9), female (4), unknown (2)
  • Thames Valley Police – also included police staff in response, and provided data for financial years: 91 claims, against 99 police officers and staff, male (85), female (6), unknown (8)
  • Wiltshire Police: 6 claims against male officers

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