WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
May 22 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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Sexual misconduct in NHS hospitals is ‘virtually decriminalised’

Sexual misconduct in NHS hospitals is ‘virtually decriminalised’

Nursing staff in Wales are facing sexual violence and rape while at work, with low prosecution rates meaning these crimes are ‘virtually decriminalised’.

Freedom of information requests from the Women’s Rights Network to all Welsh police forces revealed that an alleged 152 sexual assaults and 26 rapes were recorded between January 2019 and October 2022 on hospital grounds. There were four convictions as a result of these allegations, although two forces were unable to provide convictions data.

Additionally, the BBC reported in May that data collected by the British Medical Journal and the Guardian revealed that over 35,000 incidents of sexual violence or misconduct were recorded between 2017 and 2022 on NHS premises in England. These acts ranged from derogatory remarks to rape.

Nurses described having their breasts grabbed, their bottoms slapped at work, and hands being put up their dresses. An ex-NHS worker, who recently left for a private sector job, said ‘as young females, we felt absolutely violated’.

After being punched in the face at work, she reported the incident to her manager but was ‘advised not to do anything’. It was implied that she may be unable to progress at the hospital if she reported the incident.  A retired NHS nurse said that the battles fought for by women in the profession since the 1980s have ‘not gone away.’

Retired South Wales Police Officer and Wales’s lead for the Women’s Rights Network, Cathy Larkman, said that only the North Wales Police force recorded the gender of the victim. This was 80% female and 20% male.

The network is calling for better data gathering to include the gender, location and whether the alleged perpetrator was a member of staff or member of the public: ‘This is a time when nationally the police are emphasising that they are listening to women and have a high focus on violence against women, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect an urgent response that they will look at their recording measures’.

North Wales Police said it was reviewing the level of detail recorded for such offences. Dyfed Powys Police and Gwent Police said that ‘we continually review the data collected for all areas of crime, including reports of rape and sexual assault, to ensure that there is greater opportunity to detect and prevent such offences.’