A hot topic for Police forces throughout England & Wales of late has been identifying and dismissing officers who have sought to exploit their position for sexual gain. The issue has been highlighted by various agencies charged with holding the Police to account including the IOPC and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary .
In my experience, Anti-corruption units & Professional Standards Departments have finally begun to treat the issue seriously. Often, the Police will receive a report of inappropriate behaviour by an officer that leads to an investigation which establishes that the first complaint is just the tip of the iceberg.
In 2017, Yvonne called me and ask that I take on her case. She had been contacted by the Anti Corruption Unit of her local force. They were investigating an officer, PC A, for Misconduct.
A vulnerable woman had contacted the force & disclosed that PC A, who had attended upon her regarding a domestic situation, was in contact with her on a social basis and she was considering forming a relationship with him.
PC A’s personal telephone data was obtained for the previous 12 months which showed contact with 4 females whom PC A had come into contact with during the execution of his duties as a Police Officer and with whom PC A had sought to establish or had established a relationship. One of these women was my client, Yvonne.
I have written about Yvonne’s story previously (‘How Police Guidance Fails Sexual Abuse Victims’). In essence, she was a long-term victim of domestic violence, now groomed by PC A who had been assigned to her case and then encouraged to enter into a sexual relationship with him.
But what of the other women?
The second woman identified, Joanne who was a recent divorcee and single mother, had been involved in a minor road traffic accident. PC A attended. He recorded that her tyres were bald & that she had no valid MOT but he failed to instigate a criminal prosecution. Instead, he called her later from his personal mobile phone and explained that she wouldn’t get any points because he had “sorted it out”. He subsequently made further calls and sent text messages attempting to establish a relationship. Joanne wasn’t interested and got her brother to call PC A and pretend he was her boyfriend.
The third woman identified, Kelly, had called the Police to report her estranged husband for emotional abuse. PC A attended upon her. He advised that no criminal case was made out, but that he would keep in contact with her in case there were any further developments. He used his personal number to contact her and once again tried to establish a relationship. Ultimately, Kelly was confident enough to advise PC A that she wasn’t interested & contact tailed off.
The fourth woman, Anne, was another recent divorcee and single mother. Her estranged husband reported her for the theft of a bike and PC A attended upon her. The allegation was groundless but once again PC A came up with an excuse to contact her using his mobile phone with a view to establishing a relationship. Once again, Anne was eventually strong enough to advise PC A that she did not want a relationship and once again contact ended.
Unsurprisingly, the investigators established from a review of his phone records that PC A was not in the habit of providing his personal mobile number to members of the public who were male or who were female and in a stable relationship. He was cynically targeting the most vulnerable members of society, the very people most in need of Police protection, for his own sexual gratification. We can rightly describe his behaviour as predatory.
Whilst there may be a distinction between sexual predators, who specifically seek employment as Police Officers with the intention of gaining access to vulnerable women and children – the real ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ – on the one hand, and those who may commence their Police careers with honest intentions but who through some default of character or temperament, succumb to the temptations and corruptions of power and opportunity, there is no doubt that all men who seek to exploit their station in the Police for sexual gratification must be rooted out and their victims given all available help and support.