20 Sep 2012
Police forces should make the prevention, detection and investigation of officers abusing their powers for sexual exploitation a higher priority, says a report published by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). The report reveals how some police officers have used their positions of trust to abuse and exploit people with whom they come into contact. The report followed the case of Northumbria police officer Stephen Mitchell, who was jailed for life in 2011 for a number of serious sex attacks on women he met through his job.
The aim of the report is to better equip police forces to tackle the problem and therefore increase public confidence. The cases examined revealed a number of underlying themes: including the need for effective supervision, vetting and information sharing.
The report urges senior leaders within the police service to determinedly root out this kind of abuse of power. The IPCC and ACPO have produced a checklist of questions and recommendations for police which could prevent or quickly detect similar abuses.
Anne Owers, Chair of the IPCC, said: "The abuse of police powers for purposes of sexual exploitation, or even violence, is something that fundamentally betrays the trust that communities and individuals place in the police. It therefore has a serious impact on the public’s confidence in individual officers and the service in general. Each of the cases in this report is evidence of that. Together, they reveal a number of themes that underlie this kind of behaviour. The report is a first step and it is likely that further work and resources will be required to build on what has already been established. The IPCC will give greater focus to such cases, launching independent investigations wherever possible. The police service must do everything in its power to prevent such abuse, identify as soon as possible when cases do occur, deal with them effectively and learn from them.”
For further information contact the IPCC - To view a copy for the report go to http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/news/Pages/pr_200912_abuseofpower.aspx
Rape Crisis (England and Wales) supports all changes that give survivors better access to justice and help to prevent the abuse of police powers to perpetrate sexual violence. We will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the report's key recommendations through our network of Rape Crisis Centres, which provide specialist, confidential and independent support to victims and survivors of sexual violence.