Almost 2,000 police officers accused of sexual misconduct in four years

Almost 2,000 police officers have been accused of sexual misconduct in four years, figures reveal, yet two thirds faced no action. 

Freedom of Information requests sent to police forces across the UK revealed that 1,980 officers, special constables and police community support officers were accused of some form of sexual misconduct over the past four years. 

The figures raise concerns about red flags potentially being missed and have prompted the National Police Chiefs Council to admit that there are a "small number of people who are attracted to policing because of the power".

The questions, to which 39 police forces replied, show that between the financial year 2017/18 to 2020/21, there were 373 accusations of sexual assault, 95 accusations of rape and 18 accusations of child sex offences. The data also reveal that just eight per cent of allegations led to a dismissal.

Furthermore, nearly two thirds of the allegations led to no action, where cases were either not upheld, deemed no case to answer, discontinued or no further action taken.

‘Systemic failures’

Nearly one third of officers accused had previously been reported for some kind of misconduct, although not necessarily of a sexual nature. 

The statistics come after Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, announced an independent inquiry 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 Metropolitan Police in the wake of Ms Everard’s murder.

Armed officer Couzens, 48, 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. 

He received a whole-life sentence for his crimes, meaning he will die in prison.

The research, to be analysed tonight on Channel 4’s Dispatches, reveals the scale of allegations of sexual misconduct by serving police officers across the UK.

‘Attracted to policing by power’

Speaking on the programme, Louise Rolfe of the NPCC said she was “really concerned”. “Every single one of those allegations, if they are a crime, as you described, they should be subject to a robust criminal investigation and then a misconduct investigation.

“We absolutely must, in policing, get to the bottom of what might have been behind these cases.”

She added: “We have robust systems that do weed out things that do lead to effective misconduct processes, people are dismissed for this behavior, but as you’ve identified, we’re not getting it right enough of the time.

“We know, very sadly, a small number of people are attracted to policing because of the power, the control and the opportunity it affords them…Our vetting processes are designed to root those people out.”

Dispatches was also given access to separate research conducted by Bournemouth University and supported by the NPCC which comprises 514 proven cases of sexual misconduct across 33 forces over the past five years. 

It shows that, of those who were victims of police officers, 40 per cent were victims of previous domestic abuse, 20 per cent had mental health issues and 25 per cent had suffered previous sexual assault. 

This suggests that in many instances, some police officers are deliberately targeting vulnerable women. The most common type of misconduct is “abuse of position for a sexual purpose” in which an officer uses their power to strike up a sexual relationship with a victim.

The highest-ranking officer in a proven case of sexual misconduct was an assistant chief constable.

Furthermore, of these 514 proven cases, each offender, on average, already had six general disciplinaries or allegations on their record. 

Cops on Trial: Dispatches is on All4 and Channel 4 at 10pm, Monday, October 11

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