Police Accused Of Sexual Exploitation

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The Law Of... uncovering police corruption

A report into sexual exploitation by police officers has revealed that abuse of authority for sexual gain is now the most serious form of corruption facing police forces in England and Wales.

Police accused of sexual exploitation

Responding to the report, Peter Garsden – Head of Abuse Law – explains how the abuse of authority by police officers is particularly shocking in the current climate of high-profile sex abuse cases.

Vulnerable Victims

The report, compiled by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), unveiled that 436 allegations of abuse of authority for sexual gain had been made in the last two years.

306 police officers, 20 PCSOs, and 8 police staff were accused of abusing their position for sexual gain; almost 40% of accusations involved victims of domestic abuse.

Shockingly, this is an issue that is facing the forces across England and Wales, as all but one constabulary had received at least one allegation.

A HMIC spokesman said that the results are especially distressing as the police are preying on vulnerable victims and that there is an ultimate betrayal of trust as the guardian becomes the abuser.

The HMIC was established by then Home Secretary Theresa May, who tried to uncover the scale of sexual exploitation in the police force.

Disconnect With Dismissals

One of the main points from the investigation is an apparent inconsistency between how different constabularies handled reports of abuse of authority for sexual gain.

It has been claimed that some forces treat accusations of this nature a lot more seriously than others, with only 40 officers or staff being dismissed after the 436 reported incidents of abuse of authority for sexual gain.

Less than half of all of the allegations made were referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, highlighting that a number of forces may not appreciate the severity of accusations.

Many officers, it has been claimed, do not have a clear understanding of acceptable boundaries around establishing or pursuing relationships with vulnerable people.

In response, the National Police Chiefs' Council described sexual exploitation by members of the police force as a disease and admitted that more needed to be done to root out the cause of the problem, so that standards can be improved for the future.

Police Convicted Of Sex Crimes

HMIC's report does not reveal anything new, as a Guardian investigation four years ago highlighted concerns and called for immediate action on police abuse of vulnerable victims.

There has been a number of high-profile cases that saw police officers abuse their position to commit sexual crimes, including a constable who was jailed for life for raping and sexually assaulting women he met while on duty and constable jailed for four years for assaulting women both in his patrol car and in their home.

Discussing the findings of the report, Peter said:

"The abuse committed by police, of a sexual nature, on vulnerable adults is a surprising revelation against a background of improved sensitivity and awareness in the police force for sex crimes. As the police have been giving sexual crimes top priority nationally, it is likely that many of the officers involved in complaints have been dealing with reports of a similar nature to that which they face themselves."

"The report contains more detail than can be summarised in one paragraph, but I am sure that the increased awareness on the part of the public of their rights to complain about, and report, abuse must be taken into account when looking at these statistics."

"The police, however, have explained that they recognise that attitudes and behaviours of police officers have to change."

"One must also bear in mind a background of increased interest by the police in domestic incidents, which in years gone by may not have been regarded as a matter that was the responsibility of the police force."


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