More than 1,500 police officers were accused of violence against women and girls from October 2021 to April 2022, according to new data from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC). Due to underreporting and inconsistencies in data collection by police staff, the report suggests that the real figures are likely to be higher.
Less than half of the complaints, and around three-quarters of the conduct cases, were still not finalised when the updated figures were announced. However, for closed cases, 70% and 91% of conduct and complaint cases respectively were thrown out. The NPCC stated that only one in one-hundred officers and staff were sacked for misconduct. It is highly unlikely that they would face action due to an allegation, and no one has been fired because of complaints made by the public.
This report was released just one week after Wayne Couzens, a former serving officer who was discovered to be the killer of Sarah Everard, was sentenced to a further 19 months in prison. An incident of indecent exposure was reported to the police a few days before Sarah Everard was kidnapped, however, he was not arrested or questioned quickly enough in relation to this prior offence. Mrs Justice May stated that this strengthened his “dangerous belief” in his ability to “sexually dominate women without being stopped”.
The Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, Farah Nazeer said that the statistics had “deeply worrying implications” for women’s trust in the criminal justice system. She urged the need for increased oversight of the criminal justice response by the government and transformation by the courts.
In response to these latest figures, Deputy Chief Constable Maggie Blyth, the NPCC’s co-ordinator for violence against women and girls said that “the vast majority of officers and staff are professional and committed, but I know it is shocking to hear about any potential predators in policing and that this can further shake fragile trust”.
Other police leaders have called on the Home Office to strengthen existing regulations and encouraged Chief Constables to use accelerated misconduct hearings.