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Over 200 sexual misconduct cases against Police Scotland officers in four years

Hundreds of cases of sexual misconduct were made against Police Scotland officers over the last four years – yet not one resulted in dismissal.

Shocking new figures reveal there were 245 counts of sexual misconduct made against 116 police officers and special constables in Scotland but no dismissals were made.

The damning statistics have been uncovered from a Freedom of Information request made by Channel 4 Dispatches programme.

The findings come as part of a wider investigation into sexual misconduct in police forces across the UK in the aftermath of Sarah Everard’s murder committed by serving Met police officer Wayne Couzens.

Cops on Trial: Dispatches, which airs tonight at 10pm, also investigates of domestic abuse perpetrated by police officers.

Reporter Ellie Flynn speaks with Annie, the former partner of PC Fraser Ross, who served with Police Scotland and was convicted of four counts of assault in July this year.

Cops on Trial: Dispatches airs tonight

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Throughout their six-year relationship, Annie was subjected to physical and emotional domestic abuse.

She began keeping recordings and photographs with evidence when she took to police.

PC Ross avoided jail and was sentenced to a community payback order with 250 hours of unpaid was and a six-year non-harassment order.

He resigned just a week before his sentence and kept his pension.

Speaking within the Dispatches programme, Annie said: “I had bruising that would be round my wrists all up my arms, my ribs, he headbutted me. I had some kind of concussion, one of the occasions. He would say, ‘I would love to kill you’.”

Over 200 sexual misconduct cases against Police Scotland officers in four years
Reporter Ellie Flynn in Cops on Trial: Dispatches

In response to the findings of the programme, Police Scotland’s Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor claimed the force takes “appropriate action” when an officer fails to meet their standards.

She said: “Police Scotland demands the highest levels of integrity from our officers….when someone fails to meet this standard we take the appropriate action.

“We have no ability under current conduct regulations to prevent an officer from resigning.

“Our officers will carry out a thorough investigation into any complaint, irrespective of who the offender is. Sexism, misogyny and discrimination of any kind are deplorable and unacceptable. They have no place in policing.

“Progress has been made but there remains much work to do.

“We’re bringing additional focus to ensure our culture is welcoming and inclusive, including independent scrutiny and oversight by an Independent Review Group.”

Freedom of Information requests were lodged with police forces across the UK and 39 forces responded providing information.

It revealed that almost 2000 officers, special constables and ‘Police Community Support Officers’ were accused of some form of sexual misconduct over the past four years.

370 accusations of sexual assault were made along with almost 100 accusations of rape and 18 accusations of child sex offences.

Just 8% of allegations led to a dismissal and, even in upheld cases of sexual misconduct, dismissals were less than one third.

Nearly one third of officers accused had previously been reported for some kind of misconduct, raising concerns that clear red flags are potentially being ignored or missed.

Research by the Bournemouth University and supported by the National Police Chief’s Council reveals that of those who were victims of police officers, 40% were victims of previous domestic abuse, 20% had mental health issues and 25% had suffered previous sexual assault.

The research was comprised of 514 proven cases of sexual misconduct across 33 forces over the last five years.

It suggests that some police officers were deliberately targeting women who were known to be vulnerable.

The most common type of misconduct is “abuse of position for a sexual purpose” in which an officer uses their power to strike up a relationship with a victim for a sexually motivated purpose.

One victim of this form of misconduct is Sasha (not her real name) who was raped after a night out in Preston. Her case was assigned to DC Jatinder Bunger.

As part of his investigation, Bunger took Sasha’s phone to review images she had taken of her injuries as evidence.

Sasha was later contacted by investigators and was appalled to be shown her own personal photographs – including images of her in underwear – that were in no way related to her case.

These were found to have been taken off her phone by Bunger, and further investigation showed that he had targeted four other women – some victims of crimes he was sent to investigate.

He took intimate images from some of their phones, sent sexual messages and made unnecessary home visits to one of them.

He was found guilty of five counts of misconduct in a public office and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

The Bournemouth University research also reveals that 15% 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 highest-ranking officer in a proven case of sexual misconduct was an Assistant Chief Constable.

Of these 514 proven cases, each offender, on average, already had six general disciplinarians or allegations on their record and nearly half were the subject of intelligence logs suggesting they may be involved in sexual behaviour.

Speaking within the Dispatched programme, Louise Rolfe, the National Police Chiefs Council Lead for Violence and Public Protection said: “We are really concerned to hear about that level…every single one of those allegations, if they are a crime, as you described, they should be subject to a robust criminal investigation and then a misconduct investigation.

“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 are 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 that we might put around that individual and their colleagues to prevent anything happening again.

“We have robust systems that do weed out things that do lead to effective misconduct processes, people are dismissed for this behaviour, but as you’ve identified, 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.

“Our vetting processes are designed to root those people out.”

Cops on Trial: Dispatches is on All4 and Channel 4 at 10pm, Monday October 11.

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