What do you do when the Protectors become the Predators? In Europe, British police have become abusers of rape and violence victims.
More than 300 police in England and Wales have been accused of using their position to commit sexual abuses, according to an official report released Thursday.
According to the researchers, this is the “most serious corruption case the service faces”, a “disease whose roots need to be removed and the future forces to be cleaned.”
Among the victims of the agents are detainees, but also whistle-blowers of domestic violence, drug and alcohol addicts and sex workers.
The investigation data, carried out by the Police Inspectorate, cover a period of two years, which ended last March.
In total, 436 allegations of abuse of power to obtain sexual benefits were filed, involving 306 police officers, 20 assistants and six employees.
Researchers believe there could be quite a few more cases.
Despite the bulge of the figure, the report detects “an apparent disconnection” with the number of officers punished. Only 40 officers were fired for abuse of authority.
“To be clear. The sexual exploitation of vulnerable women is corruption. It’s using authority for their own benefit,” said Chief Inspector Mike Cunningham, who has led the investigation. He added:
“It is the most serious problem of corruption, in the sense that it is the ultimate betrayal. What can be worse than the guardian abusing the trust of a person who has been abused? There can be no greater violation of public trust.”
According to Cunningham, “the problem is likely to be more serious than the figures compiled so far.”
At least 40% of the allegations belong to victims of domestic violence. Interior Minister Amber Rudd has described the revelations as “shocking”.
What happened, “undermines justice and public confidence. There is no place inside the police for anyone guilty of this type of abuse,” he said, adding:
“Most police officers are doing their job well and I know they share my determination to give the most vulnerable in our society the protection they deserve.”
According to the inspectors, some agents “do not clearly understand” the limits they must establish in their relationships with vulnerable people. Others are sexual predators, who enter the police force for the purpose of exploiting the victims.
In 2011, agent Stephen Michell, 42, was sentenced to life in prison for sexually abusing a number of detainees. This policeman, stationed in Northumbria, abused drug addicts, women accused of commercial theft and even a disabled teenager.
“Michell was a psycho rapist, who became a police officer. But in other cases there are agents who are opportunistic and take advantage of circumstances when they can abuse their power and use their authority,” Cunningham told the BBC.
Earlier this year, Scotland Yard officer Robert Dawson was expelled from the police for having sex with a rape victim whose case he was investigating.
Another police officer, Simon Salway, who also maintained such relationships with vulnerable witnesses and victims of various crimes was convicted of improper behavior.
Salway even had a son with one of the women he exploited. “Sexual abuse can never be justified or forgiven,” says Stephen Watson of the National Police Council.