Police officers should not be above the law.
In April 2021 I contributed to a BBC News article shedding light on the endemic problem of serving police officers abusing women and escaping disciplining and punishment.
Following that article, I was inundated with telephone calls and emails from other women who had suffered abuse at the hands of police officers. For most people the findings of the BBC and Bureau of Federal Investigations were shocking. And rightly so. For me, their findings were further confirmation that police officers are sexually abusing individuals and are not being brought to justice.
I know this because I have successfully represented individuals for compensation against various constabularies.
It is accepted that the police are there to protect the public. However, there seems to be an unwavering belief that all officers are good. That all officers could not possibly commit a violent crime. Even Dame Cressida Dick cannot accept that there are many officers who will commit violent crimes. Her comments whilst addressing violence against women and girls to the Women’s Institute were, at best, tone deaf. At worst, they are a dereliction of her duty as head of the Metropolitan Police to accept that there is likely to be institutional corruption and to do her best to stamp it out.
It is not just the Metropolitan Police that have the problem. It is every police force in the land.
When police officers sexually abuse colleagues or those who have reached out to them for help it is often not a one off occurrence. Police officers are able to abuse those they help because of the role given to them by society. When they don the uniform or put their warrant card in their pocket, the general public expect protection and help.
And those ‘rogue’ officers use that assumption to their advantage. The people who have sought assistance from Bolt Burdon Kemp often have very similar stories. That they reached out to the police for help but were sexually abused.
Officers who abuse others often seem to have a sense that as they know the law, they can game the law. They take steps to erase their tracks on electronic devices. They take steps to undermine their victim. But what they forget is that their victims often hold all the evidence needed to convict them. All that is needed is for the victim to come forward. But that is not always so easy.
The officer who abused them threatens them not to report. The officer who abused them almost always says the words,
“No one will believe you over a police officer.”
And until recently, that was true. However, I hope that there is the beginning of a sea change. I hope that others coming forward and telling their stories will empower others to do the same.
I hope that constabularies (and Dame Dick, particularly) will start to effect the change needed to root out officers who sexually abuse others. Starting with complaints that are made about officers are not investigated by their own force.
When a force is conducting their own investigation in to abuse and misfeasance it is never going to end well. The inherent bias simply cannot be surmounted. A simple change would make so much of a difference.