Just 13 out of 1,539 police officers investigated over misconduct sacked

Police officers
Police officers

Only 13 police officers have been sacked out of more than 1,500 investigated for allegations of violence, sexual abuse or misconduct against women in a six-month period.

In the first analysis of its kind, police chiefs found 1,539 officers or staff at forces in England and Wales had faced complaints relating to violence against women and girls between October 2021 and March 2022.

But, of the complaints by the public which had concluded, 91 per cent resulted in no further action being taken and overall just 13 officers have been dismissed over their conduct.

The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) launched the research as part of a drive to hold forces to account over their handling of gender-based violence, which it wants to see treated as seriously as terrorism.

Maggie Blyth, the NPCC’s lead for violence against women and girls, said it was “shocking” to hear the number of “potential predators in policing” and acknowledged the findings would “further shake fragile trust across local forces and nationally”.

She added that the findings “reinforced to me the urgency and the importance of the current policing mission to lift the stone and root out abusers and corrupt individuals in policing”.

Calls to toughen up regulations

Police leaders have asked the Home Office to toughen up existing regulations, including barring anyone convicted or cautioned for violence against women and girls from policing, and re-vetting anyone accused of these types of crimes.

Ms Blyth said investment was needed to ensure counter-corruption units and professional standards departments were “significantly improved” and encouraged chief constables to use accelerated misconduct hearings to speed up disciplinary processes.

It comes at a time of unprecedented crisis of confidence in British policing brought about by scandals including the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving firearms officer and another man from his unit, David Carrick, being unmasked as one of the country’s worst rapists.

Re-vetting officers

On Monday, the Met Police became the first force in the country to introduce re-vetting procedures for officers when their behaviour is identified as “being of concern”, in the latest move by commissioner Sir Mark Rowley to clean up the force.

The Met’s re-vetting can be triggered by misconduct proceedings resulting in formal warnings, in response to “adverse information” being reported about officers to professional standards, or at the conclusion of a criminal investigation, the force said.

Carrick had been allowed to continue serving with the Met despite years of complaints about his conduct, with bosses even failing to carry out the standard re-vetting process usually conducted after 10 years of service.

David Carrick - Hertfordshire Police via AP
David Carrick - Hertfordshire Police via AP

Last year, a damning review by Dame Louise Casey found Scotland Yard’s misconduct system had given rise to an “anything goes” culture by failing to deal with racists, misogynists and even criminals.

In the NPCC’s research on police-perpetrated violence against women and girls, 524 complaints were found to have been made by the public against 867 officers and staff, as well as 653 internal conduct complaints against 672 individuals in the six-month period.

The complaints related to various allegations including sexual harassment, discreditable conduct not in the execution of their duty, and sexual assault.

Of the conduct cases, 167 have been resolved, with 13 officers and staff sacked. The cases involve 195 separate allegations, of which 136, or 70 per cent, resulted in no further action.

For the public complaints, 290 cases involving 314 allegations have been resolved, with 91 per cent ending with no further action, and no officers or staff sacked.

The number of officers and staff who faced accusations equated to 0.7 per cent of the total police workforce employed in March 2022.

The NPCC said it was “highly likely” that there were a far greater number of allegations against police officers than those identified, but a lack of confidence in the police had likely led to lower reporting rates.

More widely, police chiefs also found that in the same six-month window more than 507,827 offences of violence against women and girls were recorded, representing 16 per cent of all crime.

'Completely unacceptable'

Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “These figures are completely unacceptable, but we understand that they are from a year ago and we are working closely with Maggie Blyth to help improve them.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “The Home Secretary has been clear that culture and standards in the police need to change - those who commit heinous acts such as domestic and sexual abuse do not belong in policing and must be rooted out.

“An internal review into police dismissals is also under way to ensure that the system is fair and effective at removing those officers who fall below the standards we expect.”