HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS)
Forces are not doing enough to prevent officers abusing their position for a sexual purpose, finds report
Police forces need to do more to ensure they are able to detect and root-out ‘abuse of position for a sexual purpose’ by officers and staff, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has said in a report published today.
Get the report
HMICFRS inspected how forces are tackling this crime in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Over this period, inspectors found that most forces have been slow to take the steps necessary to root out this type of corruption. As part of its ongoing annual assessments of police forces in England and Wales, HMICFRS committed to following up how forces had progressed since 2017.
HMICFRS has seen some encouraging progress and an improved understanding of the problem across the whole of the police workforce. Inspectors have also seen examples of forces being proactive and creative in looking for signs of corruption. They carry out this work using relatively modest resources. However, while HMICFRS found excellent work in some forces, others are lagging far behind.
- Vetting is the first line of defence for forces. But HMICFRS estimated that more than 10 percent of the police workforce did not have up to date vetting.
- Forces need dedicated resources to proactively look for warning signs and develop intelligence. But two-thirds of forces had insufficient capacity in their counter-corruption units.
- Forces need to be able to proactively detect misuse of their ICT systems and the information they hold. But two-thirds of forces don’t yet have full ICT monitoring on their systems.
These forces haven’t invested the necessary resources and they aren’t proactive enough in looking for corruption. The report published today makes a number of recommendations for forces to help them improve tackling this form of corruption and abuse.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham said:
“It is important to recognise that this sort of abuse of power is thankfully incredibly rare, and the vast majority of officers and staff are dedicated public servants who would never contemplate this inexcusable behaviour.
“Nonetheless, even one instance of abuse of position for a sexual purpose is one too many. It is an appalling betrayal of often vulnerable people, and can be devastating to those who fall prey to it. Although the numbers of people involved are small, forces must do all they can to prevent, detect and deal with this serious form of corruption.
“We have been urging the police to act on this issue for some years now. Many forces have listened and are already making changes. But I’ve been deeply disappointed to find that others have, after all this time, still not put some basic measures in place. Forces should reflect on the findings of this report and take action: to maintain the legitimacy of the police and, most importantly, to protect the public from predators who have no place in policing.”
The report, Shining a light on betrayal: abuse of position for a sexual purpose, is published as part of HMICFRS’s ongoing annual assessment of police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (PEEL).
“Overall, most forces are performing well. They are keeping people safe and reducing crime, using their resources efficiently, and treating their workforces and the communities they serve fairly and with respect. But following this second group of inspections we found that there are more forces requiring improvement in more areas. And we have issued our first inadequate grades in our 2018/19 PEEL inspections. We do not want to see the police service, which is currently meeting the needs of most people in England and Wales, find itself unable to cope with demand.
“Our inspections took place before recent announcements of the recruitment of additional officers, but this makes our findings more relevant. It is welcome news that the Government plans to increase the number of police officers. But that will not, on its own, solve the pressures facing policing. Our report shows areas that need addressing to make sure that the public feels the benefits, as well as ensuring police officers and staff are supported and protected when performing their duties.”
Get the reports
Abuse of position for a sexual purpose is defined as:
‘any behaviour by a police officer or police staff member, whether on or off duty, that takes advantage of their position as a member of the police service to misuse their position, authority or powers in order to pursue a sexual or improper emotional relationship with any member of the public’
- PEEL is an annual assessment of police forces in England and Wales. Forces are assessed on their effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy. They are judged as outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate on these categories (or pillars) based on inspection findings, analysis and Her Majesty’s Inspectors’ (HMIs) professional judgment across the year.
Latest News from
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS)
North Wales Police is “clearly committed” to child protection work but some improvements are still needed, confirms report16/10/2019 11:10:00
North Wales Police demonstrates a thorough understanding of its responsibilities towards protecting children from harm, according to a new report.
Warwickshire Police makes improvements in how it records crime, confirms report09/10/2019 11:10:00
Warwickshire Police’s crime recording capabilities have shown noticeable improvements over the past five years, according to a new report.
West Mercia Police’s crime recording capabilities have improved, finds Inspectorate08/10/2019 15:20:00
West Mercia Police has made notable improvements to how it records reported crime, according to a new report.
Essex Police’s crime recording arrangements graded ‘outstanding’ by Inspectorate08/10/2019 13:25:00
Essex Police’s crime recording practices have been graded as ‘outstanding’ by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
North Yorkshire Police demonstrates “impressive levels of improvement” in its crime recording capabilities, confirms report08/10/2019 12:47:00
North Yorkshire Police’s crime recording practices have significantly improved over the past 24 months, according to a new report.
South Yorkshire Police custody – a mix of positive findings and concerns for inspectors02/10/2019 11:10:00
Criminal justice inspectors found a mixed picture when they visited police custody suites in South Yorkshire, with some positive features but also several areas for concern.
HMCIC criticises lack of upstream public investment in crime prevention and says public must decide how much crime they are willing to tolerate20/09/2019 15:25:00
In a lecture last night at the University of Cambridge, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary criticised lack of upstream public investment in crime prevention and says public must decide how much crime they are willing to tolerate
Devon and Cornwall Police custody - Many positive features and good care12/09/2019 13:25:00
Devon and Cornwall Police were assessed by a joint criminal justice inspectorates team as delivering good outcomes for detainees held in custody.