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Force apologises to female officers domestically abused by colleague

Gwent Police has apologised to two women probationers whose reports of domestic abuse at the hands of an officer were ignored.

Gwent Police issued a statement today (24 November) saying it is “extremely sorry” for failing to properly investigate allegations of abuse made by both women, and claiming to have now “taken the actions needed to get this right in future”.

The two women, known as ‘Jodie’ and ‘Sarah’, were both probationary officers when they met former PC Clarke Joslyn, who was involved in their training and is said to have used his seniority to have groomed them into having a relationship with him.

Both were then subjected to domestic abuse and eventually reported him.

However, their allegations were not taken seriously and they were instead targeted by Joslyn’s colleagues.

They said they were left feeling “worthless” and “broken” by the “negligence of Gwent Police and its boys’ club culture”.

It later emerged that several other women had been victimised by Joslyn over a period of years while he remained a serving officer with access to young female trainees.

Misconduct proceedings were finally brought against him in 2018.

But Joslyn quit the force shortly before a panel found his actions amounted to gross misconduct.

Jodie said: “It took all of my strength and courage for me to report these crimes back in 2012. When I wasn’t taken seriously, my confidence and trust were shattered beyond repair. I was left not only feeling worthless but also that my integrity was being questioned.

“My aim all the way through this was to bring a domestic violence perpetrator to justice and prevent anybody else going through what I did. Sadly this was not the case due to the negligence of Gwent Police and its boys’ club culture.”

Sarah said she “lost everything” after she reported Joslyn.

“My reputation, my health, and ultimately my career in the police,” she said.

“I entered Gwent Police a bubbly young woman who was excited about her job and her future. When I left just five years later, I was completely broken. I have even lost my confidence in the police as a public service.”

The two women made a civil claim against Gwent Police as part of a national police super-complaint on police-perpetrated abuse being brought by the Centre for Women’s Justice, currently under investigation. The case has led to more than 155 women coming forward who allege to have suffered similar experiences, with claims of officers closing ranks and protecting accused colleagues spanning 15 forces, including Gwent Police.

Gwent's Deputy Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman met with the two women in person to issue the apology, and in a statement said: “I am extremely sorry that at a time when they felt most in need of our support that we let them down.

“We have listened, reflected and taken the actions needed to get this right in future. This is to make sure that if anyone within the force, or a member of the public, raises any concerns about the conduct of officers or staff that they can be confident of being heard and having the issues they raise investigated thoroughly. In the current climate this is critical to maintaining confidence in our services.”

The Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) estimated prevalence figures on domestic abuse in England Wales show a slight increase in reports to forces.

Published today, the figures were released by the ONS as part of analysis of data from forces, the Crown Prosecution Service, Ministry of Justice and support organisations.

The number of police recorded domestic abuse-related crimes in England and Wales rose six per cent in the year ending March 2021, following increases seen in previous years and “may reflect improved recording by the police alongside increased reporting by victims”.

The police made 33 arrests per 100 domestic abuse-related crimes – same as in the previous year.

Referrals of suspects of domestic abuse-flagged cases from the police to the CPS for a charging decision decreased by three per cent.

For the third successive year, the CPS charging rate for domestic abuse-related crimes decreased to 70 per cent in the year ending March 2021, down from 76 per cent in the year ending March 2018.

Demand on domestic abuse helplines increased a 22 per cent increase in calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline in England.

The rise was generally driven by peaks in calls during the national lockdowns, the ONS said.

It said this is not necessarily indicative of an increase in the number of victims, “but perhaps an increase in the severity of abuse being experienced, and a lack of available coping mechanisms”.

Farah Nazeer, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said the data provides “important information” about the scale of domestic abuse but said it is “vital we acknowledge that, as many survivors do not report to the police, this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg”. 

“We must also consider the gendered nature of abuse, as these statistics show: for instance, in 73 per cent of domestic abuse-related crimes last year, the victim was female. 

“While women and men both experience incidents of inter-personal violence and abuse and must receive the support that meets their needs, it is clearly evidenced that women are considerably more likely to experience repeated abuse and far more likely to be killed by a current or ex-partner. 

“The vast majority of perpetrators of domestic abuse are male, regardless of who the victim is, and we need to ensure that the gendered nature of this crime is considered whenever these statistics are being used to inform policy, practice, services and the way they are commissioned.”

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