Channel 4’s Dispatches left viewers “disgusted” last night, as it aired “shocking” details of the truth of police sexual abuse in its new investigation, Cops On Trial.
Dispatches episode revealed the scale of sexual misconduct by thousands of serving police officers. In the aftermath of Sarah Everard’s murder, scrutiny of the police has never been greater, and why isn’t more being done to investigate these crimes?
Wayne Couzens was handed a whole-life term for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard in a case that sparked national outrage.
But while the Metropolitan Police have gone to great lengths to portray Couzens as just one bad apple, this documentary suggests attitudes towards women within the police are rotten to the core.
Many charities, including Women’s Aid, have accused the force of caring more about its own image than justice (known as damage limitation).
With research of 514 proven cases and other disturbing allegations includes 370 incidents of sexual assault, 100 accusations of rape and 18 child sex offences over the past four years.
Out of those, 27 sexual assault complaints were made against Hertfordshire Constabulary officers between 2016 and 2020.
One of the story’s feature a police officer from Hertfordsire who was found guilty for recording women with spy cameras.
Lizzie reported him to the police and discovered that he was a senior detective in the Metropolitan Police. “I was really shocked and I immediately burst into tears. I was in serious danger. To think that the same person who is there to protect me has done this makes me really upset.”
‘Annie’, a former partner of PC Fraser Ross – a Scottish police officer, who was convicted of four counts of assault in July of this year, and was subjected to six years of physical and emotional abuse at his hands.
Research commissioned by Channel 4 Dispatches and conducted by BMG, shows 36% of women have experienced sexual assault or rape.
Dispatches used Freedom of Information laws to get responses from 39 of Britain’s 43 forces.
They revealed only eight percent of allegations led to dismissal and even in upheld cases of sexual misconduct, dismissals were less than one third. This means officers are still in their job to continue to abuse.
The most common type is abuse of position for a sexual purpose in which an officer uses their position and power to strike up a relationship with victims for a sexually motivated purpose.
Officer DC Jatinder Bunger, took intimate images from some of the rape victims phones, then sent sexual messages and made unnecessary home visits to one of them.
“It was dragged out for so long,” Sasha continued. “It’s been emotionally draining. I was hospitalised after I took numerous overdoses. It’s been really hard.”
He was found guilty of five counts of misconduct in a public office and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.
‘Testosterone fuelled’ culture in forces
Bournemouth University research also shows 15 percent of the proven cases they analysed involved those at Sergeant rank or higher and 30 officers were at a senior level of Inspector and above.
The research also found all the victims had some kind of vulnerability, with more than 20% having mental health issues, a quarter suffering previous sexual assault and more than 40% being previous victims of domestic abuse.
In one particularly difficult interview, Annie, from Glasgow, described her violent relationship with a serving Police Scotland officer. Sharing videos and recordings from his abuse, she could be heard screaming “stop hitting me” while he threatened her with what would happen if she went to the police.
“He would say, ‘I’d love to kill you’,” Annie told the interviewer. She says she was scared to go to the police because he was an officer and because of the culture of protecting their own.
He was later convicted of three counts of assault, but avoided prison. He also resigned the week before his sentence, meaning that he kept his police pension.
Louise Rolfe, the National Police Chiefs Council Lead for Violence and Public Protection, said: “We are really concerned to hear about every single one of those allegations. We absolutely must, in policing, get to the bottom of what might have been behind these cases.
“Anybody in policing who faces misconduct proceedings that serious would cause all kinds of concerns for us but if there is no legal avenue open to us, we would be really cautious about the way someone is employed and the monitoring and support we might put around that individual and their colleagues to prevent anything happening again.
“We have robust systems…but we’re not getting it right enough of the time. We know very sadly, a small number of people are attracted to policing because of the power, the control and the opportunity it affords them.”
The End Violence Against Women Coalition, which includes groups like Rape Crisis, Refuge and Women’s Aid, said few officers face “any meaningful consequences” for violence against women and girls nationally.
Sgt Michael Grigg was jailed in December after being found guilty of two counts of penetrative sexual activity with a child aged under 16. Formerly of Hatfield, was sentenced to six and a half years in prison in December after being convicted at Harrow Crown Court.
PC David Carrick, 46, of Stevenage, Herts, a serving Metropolitan Police officer – who served in the same unit as disgraced ex-cop Wayne Couzens – has been charged with rape on September 4 2020 in St Albans, Herts. He is due to appear on December 3rd at St Albans Crown Court.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said: “I am deeply concerned to hear the news today that an officer from the Met’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command has been arrested and now charged with this serious offence.