Sexual assault claims made against male Wiltshire police officers

Several allegations of sexual assault were made against serving male police officers in Wiltshire over five years, figures reveal.

It comes as prime minister Boris Johnson says there is “a massive job” to be done in restoring women’s confidence in police after the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer.

Figures obtained by RADAR under the Freedom of Information Act show six sexual assault complaints were made against male Wiltshire Police officers between 2016 and 2020.

Of the complaints, four saw no further action and in two the victim did not wish to pursue the case.

The data does not specify if the officers were on or off duty at the time the alleged incidents occurred.

The sex of the person making the accusation was also unknown in each case.

Responses from 33 police forces across Great Britain revealed that most claims over five years related to male officers, where their sex was recorded.

The End Violence Against Women Coalition, which includes groups like Rape Crisis, Refuge and Women’s Aid, said few officers face “any meaningful consequences” for violence against women and girls nationally.

The organisation said the murder of Ms Everard took place within a broader context of violence perpetrated by the police, adding that trust in forces from women and girls was now at an all-time low.

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, coordinated 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 data from Wiltshire Police was in response to a request for the number of complaints of sexual assaults against serving police officers.

Complaints could relate to historic allegations.

Of the cases against officers in the force between 2016 and 2020, five came from the members of the public and one from a colleague.

The Prime Minister has called for a change in the culture of policing following the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by serving police officer Wayne Couzens.

It emerged that Couzens had been accused of indecent exposure in 2015 – but was still able to transfer from Kent Police to the Metropolitan force.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct is investigating both forces for their handling of Couzens.

The body holds an oversight of the entire police complaints system and investigates the most serious police misconduct matters.

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.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel this week launched an independent inquiry into the “systematic failures” by police following the murder of Ms Everard.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Home Secretary is determined to do everything in her power to deliver improvements within policing and across the criminal justice system.

“The inquiry will look into wider issues across policing – including vetting practices, professional standards and discipline, and workplace behaviour.

“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.”

The inquiry has been welcomed by the National Police Chief’s Council chairman, Martin Hewitt, who said vetting and professional standards procedures needed to be scrutinised to restore public confidence.

“I think having an independent inquiry is a very good way for that to be to be dealt with to really help us provide that reassurance,” he added.

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