HUNDREDS of police officers across England and Wales have been accused of abusing their positions to sexually exploit victims and suspects, a damning report revealed yesterday.
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) described the findings as the worst form of corruption and condemned forces for not tackling the issue.
The watchdog’s initial findings identified more than 400 claims of abuse of authority for sexual gain over just two years and warned that: “It is at least possible, probably likely, that the problem is more serious than the numbers that have been reported back to us.”
HM Inspector Mike Cunningham said: “It’s the most serious form of corruption. What can be worse than a guardian abusing the trust and confidence of an abused person? There can be no greater violation of public trust.”
Inspectors identified 436 reported allegations against 334 police personnel, including full-time officers, and other staff.
More than a third — 39 per cent — of the accusations involved victims of domestic abuse while arrested suspects and those with drug or alcohol problems were also allegedly targeted.
The HMIC said some forces were still failing to recognise the problem as a serious form of corruption with less than half of the allegations being referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
Figures also suggested there was an “apparent disconnect” between the numbers of alleged cases and sackings as a result.
Following the report’s publication, IPCC chair Dame Anne Owers has written to all chief constables in England and Wales urging them to ensure any case regarding abuse of authority for sexual gain are referred.
She said: “While progress has been made, particularly in preventative work, we are disappointed that a significant number of serious cases are still not being referred [to the IPCC].”
Victim Support charity head Mark Castle described the allegations as “deeply concerning.”