Only 13 officers were fired from more than 1,500 officers investigated over a six-month period for allegations of violence, sexual abuse or misconduct against women.
In the first analysis of its kind, police chiefs found that 1,539 armed forces officers or personnel in England and Wales faced complaints of violence against women and girls between October 2021 and March 2022.
But of the public complaints that were closed, 91 percent resulted in no further action being taken and only 13 officers overall were fired for their conduct.
The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) launched the inquiry as part of a campaign to hold the armed forces accountable for their handling of gender-based violence, which it wants to treat as seriously as terrorism.
Maggie Blyth, the NPCC’s Director of Violence Against Women and Girls, said it was “shocking” to hear the number of “potential predators in policing” and acknowledged the findings “reveal fragile trust among local forces and… would continue to shake at the national level”.
She added that the results “reaffirm to me the urgency and importance of the current police mission to lift the rock and root out offenders and corrupt individuals in policing.”
Calls for stricter regulations
Police leaders have asked the Home Office to tighten existing rules, including barring people convicted or warned of violence against women and girls from policing and re-examining anyone accused of these types of crimes.
Ms Blyth said investment was needed to ensure anti-corruption units and professional standards departments were “significantly improved” and encouraged chief constables to use expedited misconduct hearings to expedite disciplinary procedures.
It comes at a time of an unprecedented crisis of confidence in Britain’s police force, caused by scandals including the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving firearms officer and another man from his unit, David Carrick, who has been exposed as one of the country’s worst rapists .
Check officers again
On Monday, the Met Police became the first force in the country to introduce procedures to re-examine officers when their behavior was found to be “of concern”, in the latest move by Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley to clean up the force.
The Met’s re-examination may be triggered by misconduct proceedings leading to formal warnings, in response to “adverse information” reported about officials by professional standards, or following the completion of a criminal investigation, the force said.
Carrick was allowed to continue serving with the Met despite years of complaints about his behavior, with chiefs even failing to complete the standard vetting process normally conducted after 10 years of service.
Last year, a scathing review by Dame Louise Casey found that Scotland Yard’s misconduct system had fostered an “anything goes” culture by failing to deal with racists, misogynists and even criminals.
The NPCC’s investigations into police violence against women and girls found that during the six months, 524 complaints were filed by the public against 867 officers and staff, and 653 internal behavioral complaints against 672 people.
The complaints related to various allegations, including sexual harassment, discrediting behavior outside of the performance of duty and sexual assault.
Of the conduct cases, 167 were resolved, and 13 officers and staff were fired. The cases include 195 separate allegations, 136 or 70 percent of which resulted in no further action.
As for public grievances, 290 cases involving 314 allegations were resolved, with 91 percent ending with no further action and no officials or staff being fired.
The number of officers and staff facing allegations represented 0.7 percent of the total police workforce employed as of March 2022.
The NPCC said it was “very likely” that there were a far greater number of allegations against police officers than those identified, but a lack of trust in the police likely led to lower reporting rates.
More broadly, police chiefs also noted that during the same six-month window, more than 507,827 violent crimes against women and girls were recorded, accounting for 16 percent of all crimes.
Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid said: “These numbers are totally unacceptable but we understand they are from a year ago and we are working closely with Maggie Blyth to improve them.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “The Home Office has made it clear that the culture and standards in the police force must change – those who commit heinous acts such as domestic and sexual abuse do not belong in the police force and must be rooted out.
“An internal review of police firings is also underway to ensure the system is fair and effective in removing officers who fall below the standards we expect.”