In this episode of HJ Talks about Abuse podcast, the abuse team discuss an investigation of the Byline Intelligence Team into Police Officers Sexual Misconduct.
The investigation was conducted by making multiply freedom of information requests and by using publicly available data in relation to police officers. It comes in response to the devastating case of Ms Sarah Everard, who was murdered by a serving MET police officer in March 2021.
The aim of the investigation was to address the accountability and wider failings of the police force in tackling male violence against women and girls. Particularly, after the failure of the MET police to dismiss Mr Couzens until after his guilty plea in July 2021, four months after Ms Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by him.
In response to Couzens’ guilty plea, the MET police Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, said “on occasion, I have a bad ‘un”. This suggests that it is incredibly unusual for police officers to be involved in any sexual misconduct, however, the investigation suggests otherwise.
The investigations key conclusions included:
- In 31 misconduct hearings, between 2017 and 2020
- 41% of MET police officers who were subject to disciplinary proceedings for sexual misconduct retained their roles following the decision.
- 52% of MET police officers who were found to have committed sexual misconduct stayed in their posts.
- Of MET police officers accused of sexual offences, 89% were male.
- Of Suffolk and Norfolk constabularies, 70% of officers found to have committed sexual misconduct stayed in their posts.
- In West Yorkshire, much of the sexual misconduct (44%) was found to have been committed against female colleagues who were also police officers.
These figures are shocking when you consider the role of a police officer; undoubtably one of power and that is meant to promote public trust and confidence. This research seems to suggest that the disciplinary process is too lenient on its officers accused of sexual misconduct.
However, the difficulty with the research is that it is of a small subject area and is gathered from various sources (freedom of information requests from each department and publicly available data). Therefore, it lacks detail regarding who the allegations are made by, what the allegations are (including the level of severity), and the reasons why the police officers were (or weren’t as the case may be) kept in post.
We hope that the UK police force acknowledges this report and identifies that the first step is to improve their own internal reporting and transparency.
If there is far better record keeping of the various police departments, which is transparent and can be reported on, then this in turn would result in research being appropriately gathered and patterns of failings being identified. Ultimately then changes can be identified to improve this situation.
We encourage anyone who has comments or concerns relating to this subject, or about abuse in general, to get in touch with Alan Collins at Alan.firstname.lastname@example.org or Feleena Grosvenor at Feleena.email@example.com.