Less than 1% of 1,500 police officers accused of violence against women and girls sacked
Police leaders have asked the Home Office to toughen existing regulations
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A total of 653 conduct cases relating to violence against women and girls were brought against 672 individuals by police forces in England and Wales between October 2021 and March 2022, according to data published by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) on Tuesday.
There were also 524 complaints made by members of the public against 867 officers and staff in the same time period, relating to allegations including sexual harassment, discreditable conduct not in the execution of their duty, and sexual assault.
Of the conduct cases, 167 have been resolved, with 13 officers and staff sacked. The cases involve 195 separate allegations, of which 136 (70%) resulted in no further action. As for the public complaints, 290 cases involving 314 allegations have been resolved, with 91% ending with no further action and no officers or staff sacked.
The NPCC said the figures, for all police forces in England and Wales including the British Transport Police, equate to 0.7% of the total police workforce employed in March 2022.
Of the conduct cases, just under half (48%) related to discreditable conduct not in the execution of their duty, around a fifth (19%) were allegations of sexual assault, and 13% were accusations of sexual harassment. Among the complaints from the public, 63% were accusations over use of force, 9% overbearing or harassing behaviour, and 6% sexual assault.
The figures are set to be released each year as part of efforts to tackle misogyny in policing after recent scandals including the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer and PC David Carrick being unmasked as a prolific sex offender.
Deputy Chief Constable Maggie Blyth, NPCC co-ordinator for violence against women and girls, is calling for harsher sanctions for police and wants more officers and staff sacked or disciplined for crimes or misconduct against women.
She said: “We need to be harsher in the sanctions that we are imposing upon anyone where there are allegations of this type of behaviour, whether it’s from a police complaint or whether it’s from internal misconduct.
“I would hope as we publish this (data) again in a year’s time, we will see probably more cases as we shine the light and turn those stones, more coming to light but speeding up that dismissal and removal from the service.”
The report comes after a NationalWorld investigation this month revealed that thirteen complaints of sexual misconduct by Metropolitan Police personnel were closed without being formally investigated last year
The figure - the highest of any force in England and Wales - includes seven allegations of sexual assault. Closing complaint cases without investigation means the officers or staff involved cannot face the prospect of being sacked, or of their case being pursued in court.
The police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), had said it would be checking “whether forces are dealing with these allegations appropriately”.
‘Failure to act can have devastating consequences’
Campaign group the Centre for Women’s Justice said accusations that do not result in misconduct hearings should still be treated as “significant intelligence”.
The group said: “We saw in the Couzens and Carrick cases that the failure to take action or link repeated reports can have devastating consequences.”
Elsewhere, Farah Nazeer, chief executive of charity Women’s Aid, said only 6% of the reported offences of violence against women and girls ended with a suspect being charged - a statistic she said has “deeply worrying implications for women’s already low levels of trust in the criminal justice system.”
Police leaders have asked the Home Office to toughen up existing regulations, including barring anyone convicted or cautioned for this type of offence from policing, and re-vetting anyone accused of these types of crimes. They are also encouraging chief constables to use accelerated misconduct hearings to speed up disciplinary processes.
The Metropolitan Police on Monday announced plans to re-vet officers and staff who are accused of breaking public trust.
Ms Blyth said plans are in place to set up a national helpline to allow women to report offences without having to contact police directly. It comes after the NPCC said more than 507,827 offences of violence against women and girls were recorded between October 2021 and March 2022. Of these, 61% resulted in no criminal justice outcome.
Too many cases are closed because of difficulties with evidence and victims withdrawing their support for a prosecution, Ms Blyth added. The force said the process could be triggered at the end of a criminal investigation or misconduct proceedings that lead to written warnings or a demotion.