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Thames Valley Police: Nearly 100 allegations of sexual misconduct made against serving officers and staff

The accusations were made between 2016 and 2021.

Thames Valley Police says it has robust processes in place to identify and investigate incidents of sexual misconduct.

It comes after data revealed 91 allegations have been made against police officers and staff in the last five years.

41 of those claims were from members of the public, with the majority relating to a police constable. 

All of the other complaints were internal - so made by Thames Valley Police employees - with most of those connected to what the force calls 'discreditable conduct.'

The figures - obtained under the Freedom of Information Act - reveal that disciplinary action was taken in around a fifth of cases, with some officers and staff subsequently being dismissed from the force.

The responses did not indicate whether the officers were on duty at the time of the alleged incidents.

Thames Valley Police said in a statement, that communities 'should feel reassured that all officers and staff are held to the highest possible standards at all times.'

It said: "Thames Valley Police is determined to work tirelessly to protect the communities of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

"However, we understand the effect of recent events on trust in policing. Public confidence in our officers and staff is of the utmost importance to us and we take all complaints extremely seriously.

"We have robust processes in place to identify and investigate when standards have fallen below our expectations.

"Between 2016-17 and 2020-21, 91 complaints were made against 99 officers and staff for sexual assault, abuse of position for sexual purpose and other sexual conduct. Of these, disciplinary action was taken in 19 of these cases, 59 were investigated with no disciplinary action resulting and investigations into eight of the cases are still ongoing. 

"Every reported offence is investigated by our Professional Standards Department. Disciplinary action will be taken where required and where appropriate officers or staff members will be dismissed from the force. In these cases, officers and staff will be placed on a national barred list preventing them from working in policing ever again. We also make referrals to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) when necessary.

"Communities in the Thames Valley should feel reassured that we hold all our officers and staff to the highest possible standards at all times."

At least 750 allegations were made against officers across 31 police forces, according to the data.

Complaints could relate to historic allegations and most were against male officers.

Of the total number logged by forces over the last five years, at least 34 resulted in dismissals.

It comes after Home Secretary Priti Patel announced an independent inquiry to look into the "systematic failures" that allowed Sarah Everard's killer, Wayne Couzens, to be employed as a police officer.

The End Violence Against Women Coalition, which includes groups such as Rape Crisis, Refuge and Women's Aid, said few officers face "any meaningful consequences" for violence against women and girls.

Deputy director Denzi Ugur said: "We need to see a radical overhaul of how the police respond to violence against women - especially within their own ranks.

"This means greater accountability and urgent, co-ordinated and strategic action to address violence against women.

"Ultimately, we need to address these widespread institutional failings before we can even begin to address women's confidence in the police."

The Independent Office for Police Conduct, which oversees the police complaints system, said it was down to forces to "stamp out" any abuse of police powers.

A spokesperson said: "The abuse of police powers for purposes of sexual exploitation, or violence, has a devastating impact on victims, and a serious impact on the public's confidence in individual officers and the service in general.

"It is critical there are effective systems in place to prevent, monitor and deal swiftly with any individual who exploits that trust.

"In the context of the police service, this behaviour is a form of corruption and should be dealt with as such.

"Each case reported represents a serious betrayal of the trust and confidence that individuals should have in the police. It is behaviour which can never be justified or condoned."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "As the public would rightly expect, we take police integrity very seriously and have already taken steps to overhaul the police complaints and discipline systems in order to increase transparency and accountability."

 

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