Cops Gone Bad expert warns 'victims will be lost’ if corruption ignored

Serena Simmons in Cops Gone Bad (Crime+Investigation)
Serena Simmons spoke to Yahoo about how giving a voice to victims on Cops Gone Bad is important. (Crime+Investigation)

If a light isn't shone on the victims of police corruption then many "will be lost", forensic psychologist Serena Simmons tells Yahoo UK as she reflects on making sure this isn't the case in docu-series Cops Gone Bad.

Speaking alongside retired Detective Chief Inspector Howard Groves, Simmons shared how key it is to talk about cops who have become corrupt, like serial rapist David Carrick who used his position of power to coerce, abuse and threaten women for decades before he was arrested. By making sure the public are aware of these cases, and how key it is to give victims the space to speak openly, it becomes more likely that the problem can be stopped.

"We're giving a voice to the victims, otherwise a lot of victims from these crimes would be lost," Simmons reflects. "Alongside... hopefully giving and instilling the confidence to police officers that don't feel able to come forward, this programme says 'we see the issue and we're not gonna go away'. We're gonna keep shining a light on it until something is done about it."

The forensic psychologist adds: "The more attention that we pay to the issues that exist the better. I think one of the things that attracted me to taking part in this programme was that it was done so well. It was done with such good research, with time taken to really focus on the facts of the issue.

Serena Simmons in Cops Gone Bad (Crime+Investigation)
The Crime+Investigation docu-series sees host Will Mellor (right) work with experts to examine cases of police corruption over the years, (Crime+Investigation)

"Hopefully what we've done as part of shining light is also show that we firmly believe that, generally speaking, police are good. We're not saying that there's a problem within the police, what we're saying is that there are some people that have taken advantage of their role and we're trying to shine a light on that."

Simmons' work sees her specialising in serial murder and serial crime. As well as working for the prison service she's worked with offenders at the maximum security psychiatric facility Rampton Hospital. She has taken this expertise, and her work in academic research, and applied it to Cops Gone Bad, where she helps host Will Mellor dive into each case on the Crime+Investigation series.

In her everyday role she works towards "making sense of the patterns that we see in people's behaviour and thinking" which, she says, was why Cops Gone Bad was a fascinating project: "This was a really interesting project to be involved in because [there was] such diversity amongst the offenders, but yet [they had] that common theme and that common thread of being a police officer, so not someone you would expect to do those things."

Simmons continues: "I'm interested in why as well, but the why I'm interested in comes from more of the mindset perspective. My role is very much looking at the psychological profile of the person who's committed the crime and I've always been so fascinated by pulling that apart.

Cops Gone Bad (Crime+Investigation)
Serena Simmons says Cops Gone Bad 'says "we see the issue and we're not gonna go away". We're gonna keep shining a light on it until something is done about it'. (Crime+Investigation)

"It's like an amazingly complex puzzle because it's so individual to the particular person that's committed that particular crime. We're given lots of notes on the offenders before we do the programme, which is great because we get to sit with that for a while. I get to do my own research and really pull apart what we have at our disposal in terms of facts — victim statements, anything that we can compile, certainly from my point of view, to put together that really strong psychological profile.

"And hopefully then what I'm able to do is turn a little bit more light on potential motive for doing this and shed a light on what that person seems to have gained from doing that as well, and... looking at really interesting things around 'was this person organised, were they opportunists?' Did they come into the police because the role was something that they were attracted to because they knew they could take advantage of something? Or was it that it became an opportunity that just occurred to them because they were now in the role.

"It's really interesting to pull apart all those psychological factors and make sense of that particular individual and hopefully, between [Howard and I], we've taken slightly different components and made sense of that for each of the cases that you see."

Cops Gone Bad premieres on Crime+Investigation at 9pm on Monday 26 February and will be available to stream on Crime+Investigation Play.

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