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Police drop most complaints of officer violence against women, study shows

New data shows that just 13 out of 1,539 officers accused of violent offences against women in a six month period were sacked

In news that will come as a surprise to no one, more than 1,500 police officers have been accused of violent offences against women and girls over a period of six months. To make matters worse, less than one per cent of these have been sacked.

According to data from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), 1,483 unique allegations were reported against 1,539 police officers. There were 1,177 cases of alleged police-perpetrated violence, including sexual harassment and assault reported between October 2021 and April 2022.

55 per cent of the cases were conduct matters, which are usually raised by a colleague within the force. Of these, 48 per cent concerned discreditable conduct carried outside working hours, 19 per cent related to sexual assault, 13 per cent to sexual harassment, and six per cent to abuse of position for a sexual purpose.

The remaining 45 per cent of all cases were complaints from the public. Of these complaints raised by the public, two-thirds were about the use of force – for example, handcuffing or arrest – nine per cent concerned harassing behaviour, six per cent related to assault, and five per cent abuse of position for a sexual purpose.

The report also notes that the real figures for some areas – especially allegations of domestic abuse and inappropriate sexual behaviour – may be higher, since many of these incidents go unreported and there are some problems with the recording process.

Publishing an annual assessment of police performance is a new step taken by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing to improve responses to violence against women and girls and to address the endemic sexism and misogyny in the force. But it’s difficult to see how these findings will improve or address anything, when corruption and violence are endemic within the police.

It seems as though every few weeks some other awful story comes out about the police: whether it’s about firearms officer David Carrick, a serial rapist who remained at large for almost 20 years while still employed by the Met. Or officers Deniz Jaffer and Jamie Lewis, who took selfies with the dead bodies of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman. Or Wayne Couzens, who kidnapped, raped, and murdered Sarah Everard. When tragic incidents like these occur so frequently, it’s not right to call them isolated ‘policing scandals’. Instead, they’re symptomatic of the violent, sexist, and racist culture which underpins the police as a whole.

Responding to the report, police leaders have asked the Home Office to strengthen existing regulations and toughen up the vetting process. But again, it’s hard to believe that any real change will happen when just last month the Met Police asked hundreds of retired officers with histories of misconduct records to reapply for their jobs. (You couldn’t make it up.)

With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that figures from March 2022 showed that confidence in the police has fallen from 75 per cent to 53 per cent in the past two years. Now more than ever, it’s vital that we continue to push to defund the police and oppose police corruption and brutality.