Police forces probe scores of sex complaints against officers

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Police forces across the country are investigating more than 150 allegations of sexual misconduct lodged against officers, an investigation has found.

A probe by the The Times has revealed forces in England, Wales and Scotland are looking into at least 156 claims which have been made internally and externally.

Harassment, sexual assault and rape are among a slew of allegations made against officers by women reporting crimes - with some targeted in police stations.

Figures obtained through a freedom of information (FoI) request by the newspaper also highlight how some forces have imposed minor penalties for serious allegations.

In the face of pending misconduct hearings, at least 15 officers were allowed to resign, according details of the FoI reported by The Times. Sexual touching, sexual relationships with victims, inappropriate contact with crime victims were among the allegations made against them.

It is claimed the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the official watchdog, received around 195 referrals from forces regarding the abuse of police powers for sexual gain in two a half years.

Eight independent investigations are said to currently be active.

The FoI highlights that rape, sexual assault or sexual misconduct are among more than 400 complaints made by members of the public in the past five years, The Times states.

It is also claims that lighter punishments were also handed out which meant they could stay in their jobs, such as a staff member who was given a warning for entering a relationship with a vulnerable victim.

Detective Superintendent Ray Marley of the College of Policing said the total number of cases was low among the 124,00 number of officers in England and Wales.

He told The Times: "In terms of prevalence, my impression is that most of the forces have had some sort of investigation into these serious crimes, where there's been abuse of position relating to a vulnerable person."

The Times noted that 10 forces did not respond or rejected the FoI.

Theresa May, while still home secretary, earlier this year told the Police Federation's annual conference that the issue of officers developing "inappropriate" relationships with victims of domestic abuse would be investigated.

She said the "right skills, training and commitment to protect the vulnerable are still not held by every single police officer", saying there were instances of "shameful attitudes".

"We know of officers who develop inappropriate relationships with victims of domestic abuse," she said. "They have ignored their professional duty and their moral responsibility."

The Law Commission is undertaking a wide-ranging consultation on misconduct in public office - which includes exploiting a position of power for sexual gain - and could result in legal reform.

'We are currently out to consultation and are keen to hear views," a spokesman said.

"Our proposals clearly seek to take into account this issue and a number of case studies are included in the consultation.

"We also ask the question about whether there should be wider reform of the Sexual Offences Act in relation to sexual exploitation of vulnerable people more generally."