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Less than 1% of officers and staff accused of VAWG sacked

The NPCC said the number of officers and staff who faced accusations equated to 0.7% of the total police workforce employed in March 2022.

Almost 1,200 police perpetrated VAWG complaints and conduct cases were recorded across a six-month period, according to the first national publication published by the NPCC on tackling this form of crime.

The 1,177 separate matters recorded between October 2021 and March 2022 resulted in 1,483 allegations being made against 1,539 police officers and staff, less than 1% of whom were subsequently dismissed.

These figures have been released as part of the work being done by the National VAWG Coordinator for Policing, Deputy Chief Constable Maggie Blyth, who described the findings as "sobering".

DCC Blyth said: "The vast majority of officers and staff are professional and committed but I know it is shocking to hear about any potential predators in policing and that this can further shake fragile trust.

“It’s important to be clear: data released today is intended to be a critical baseline for assessing police performance over time. It presents a picture from over a year ago rather than today.

“Over the past 18 months, police chiefs have focused on identifying wrongdoing in police ranks, strengthening misconduct investigations and toughening sanctions.

“My expectation is that the impact of those changes will be evident when we publish our next assessment – with more women having the confidence to report concerns, more investigations under way, more cases closed and more sanctions and dismissals.”

While these figures are new, this is not the first time the NPCC has looked at police perpetrated VAWG. 

Last October, a review by the NPCC and College of Policing found that inconsistencies remain with respect to how forces respond to such reports, prompting DCC Blyth to call for "immediate improvements" to be made.

Five months later and these national figures paint a frank picture, both in terms of incidence rate and outcome.

Of the 1,177 matters recorded, more than half (653) were investigated as a conduct matter, while the remaining 524 were complaints made by members of the public.

Discreditable conduct, inappropriate sexual conduct and sexual harassment were among the matters alleged in conduct cases, while over 60% of complaint allegations related to use of force.

In terms of outcomes, the report found no further action was taken in the majority of cases in both categories (which had been finalised when the data was collected).

While 74% of the conduct cases and 45% of complaint cases were still live, no further action was taken in 70% of the conduct matters and 91% of the complaint cases which had concluded.

A total of 13 officers and staff were dismissed in the 167 conduct cases which were resolved, accounting for less than 1% of the overall total.

No officers or staff were dismissed in the public complaint cases.

DCC Blyth admitted that this isn't good enough.

“We need to be harsher in the sanctions that we are imposing upon anyone where there are allegations of this type of behaviour, whether it’s from a police complaint or whether it’s from internal misconduct,” she said.

To this end, the NPCC has asked the Home Office to toughen up existing regulations by barring anyone convicted or cautioned for this type of offence from policing, and re-vetting anyone accused of these types of crimes.

It has also encouraged chief constables to use accelerated misconduct hearings to speed up disciplinary processes.

Alongside the findings on police perpetrated VAWG, the report also laid bare the extent of the overall problem by revealing that VAWG-related crime accounted for at least 16% of all recorded crime during the same period.

More than 507,827 VAWG offences were recorded between October 2021 and March 2022, of which 447,431 were flagged as domestic abuse crimes.

Of these, 61% resulted in no criminal justice outcome, a finding DCC Blyth attributed to evidential difficulties and victims withdrawing their support for a prosecution.

She acknowledged that these outcome figures do little to assure women and girls that they will get justice should they been a victim of a VAWG-related crime.

However, DCC Blyth said that increased reporting was vital not only for personal justice, but to help “tackle the epidemic”.

To encourage this, there are plans to set up a national helpline which would allow these offences to be reported without going directly to the police.

APCC Joint Leads for Victims and VAWG, Donna Jones and Sophie Linden said: “The publication of this report is an important step in ensuring complete transparency and accountability in the police’s performance in tackling violence against women and girls.

“Whilst the statistics will be alarming, it is vital these are made available and that progress against the framework is strictly monitored if we are to get a grip on this epidemic and build back trust and confidence with the public and victims of these heinous crimes."

Last month, VAWG was categorised as a national threat for the first time in the new strategic policing requirement, meaning police forces now have to treat it on a par with terrorism, serious and organised crime and child sexual abuse.

As a result, a national threat assessment of the scale of this type of crime will be made next month.

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