The majority of police forces in England and Wales still have work do in regard to their planning around preventing the abuse of position for a sexual purpose, according to a report published today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
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In December 2016, HMICFRS recommended that within six months all police forces in England and Wales should develop and begin to implement plans required to seek intelligence on potential abuse of position for a sexual purpose. Forces were asked to submit plans to HMICFRS by 31 May 2017 for review. There has undoubtedly been impressive work going on at a national level by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), College of Policing, Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and the Home Office, however upon review of individual force plans, HMICFRS found:
- Eleven force plans contained insufficient information;
- Fifteen others had plans but had not yet commenced implementation;
- Fifteen had plans in place and had started implementation; and
- Two already had all elements in place (Derbyshire Constabulary and Merseyside Police).
This report is based on a desk-based review of plans submitted by forces. A full inspection of this and other elements of police legitimacy will be carried out in 2018.
HMI Mike Cunningham, who led this inspection, said:
“When police officers and police staff abuse their position for a sexual purpose it has a devastating effect on the lives of victims, and corrodes trust and confidence in the police. It is of great importance that forces are prepared to seek intelligence on this type of corruption, and when they find it deal with it vigorously and decisively.
“Following the recommendation in our 2016 report, seventeen forces had made progress in developing and implementing plans. Derbyshire Constabulary and Merseyside Police already had plans in place, and are to be commended on their swift and decisive action. Other forces now need to follow suit, as the majority still have significant work to do to address this critical issue.
“The importance of public trust in the police cannot be understated, and forces need to do everything they can to ensure this trust isn’t eroded. HMICFRS will be inspecting how forces have implemented these plans in 2018, so forces now have another opportunity to show they have understood the importance of this issue, and make progress. Between our feedback, the NPCC national strategy, changes to the IPCC referral criteria and College of Policing guidance we believe forces have all the information they need to get this right, so we expect to see an improved picture when we inspect next year.”
Notes to editors
- The National Police Chief’s Council defines the abuse of position for a sexual purpose 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.”
- The two forces which already had all elements in place are: Derbyshire Constabulary and Merseyside Police.
- Letters to individual forces can be found on the HMICFRS website from 5 October 2017.
- The 2016 Legitimacy inspections can be found on the HMICFRS website.
- On 19 July 2017 HMIC took on responsibility for fire & rescue service inspections and was renamed HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services.
- HMICFRS is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest. It assesses and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces to tackle crime, anti-social behaviour and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMICFRS inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing and law enforcement bodies.
- HMICFRS will inspect all 45 fire and rescue authorities in England.
- For further information, HMICFRS’ press office can be contacted from 8:30am – 5:30pm Monday – Friday on 020 3513 0600.
- HMICFRS’ out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217729.