A recent report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) highlighted that police forces are not doing enough to stop their officers carrying out sexual abuses and abusing their powers.
Senior Associate Solicitor & Head of Public Law, Civil
The HMICFRS is an organisation that independently assesses the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces and fire and rescue services in the public interest. In other words, they assist in holding these organisations to account for abuses of their power and breaches of public trust.
Sexual Abuse Offences by Police on the Rise
Sexual abuse offences committed by police officers are on the rise as is evidenced by a number of prosecutions against officers in recent years. Not only are they committing a criminal act but they are abusing their position of public trust and this can have a devastating and traumatic effect on those abused. It calls into question the relationship of trust the public hold with police officers and could result in a fear of reporting such crimes. It also places already vulnerable people at risk of further harm from the very people they have turned to for help. It is through their position as police officers that this abuse takes place.
Allegations of sexual abuse by police officers need to be dealt with now to prevent any further abuses. The victim of abuse needs to feel that they will be taken seriously by the police force they deal with when reporting such abuse. They need to know that the Force have a plan or policy in place to deal with such situations and to ensure that the victim of the abuse does not have to face or deal with their abuser whilst the matter s being investigated by the Force. It calls for effective, considered and sensitive action.
In December 2016, the HMICFRS recommended that Police Forces take steps to implement a plan to deal with this. It recommended that within 6 months, each Force implements a plan setting out how they propose to deal with obtaining information about alleged abuses by police officers. It is vital that this is done to protect the more vulnerable members of our society.
The Forces may also need to consider the level of resources to be committed to this plan and to ensure that they reflect the seriousness of these abuses. Existing policies may need to be changed and amended.
The report acknowledges that there are only two Forces in the country, Derbyshire Constabulary and Merseyside Police, who currently have all elements in place
This is not a change which can happen overnight and is something which will need continuous review. It will also need a commitment to prosecuting those officers who have sexually abused an individual and breached their position of trust. Such prosecutions should be dealt with as expeditiously as possible and not be left for large periods of time thereby increasing the anxiety and distress caused to the victims of abuse.
We Can Help
At MW Solicitors Our Mission is “To make quality legal services accessible to everyone.” including vulnerable people who are victims of abuse by those in public office. Abuses of power by those in public office is something that we take very seriously at MW.