No dismissals despite almost 250 sexual misconduct allegations among Police Scotland officers

Police Scotland faces questions about widespread accusations of sexual misconduct after it emerged that not one police officer or special constable was fired over a four year period despite almost 250 sexual misconduct accusations within the force.

Police Scotland received just under 250 sexual misconduct complaints against police officers and special constables in the last four years.
Police Scotland received just under 250 sexual misconduct complaints against police officers and special constables in the last four years.

In total, 166 police officers and special constables within Police Scotland have been accused of 245 counts of sexual misconduct, a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation found.

The documentary – Cops on Trial: Dispatches – is set to be aired tonight and will claim there are potentially serving police officers with proven sexual misconduct cases.

It comes alongside other data, obtained under freedom of information legislation, found that 64 sexual assault claims were made against Police Scotland officers between 2016 and 2020. Just two allegations were upheld, with 39 not upheld, nine withdrawn or abandoned, and investigations into 14 ongoing.

The data from Police Scotland was in response to a request for the number of complaints of sexual assaults against serving police officers and complaints could relate to historic allegations.

It also comes after the chief constable said he would order an independent review into a tribunal which found evidence of a “sexist culture” with Police Scotland’s firearms unit. Former firearms officer Rhona Malone raised the tribunal against Police Scotland, alleging sex discrimination and victimisation, with the latter claim succeeding.

Responding to the Dispatches figures, Deputy Chief Constable, Fiona Taylor, said: "Police Scotland demands the highest levels of integrity from our officers and staff and when someone fails to meet this standard we take the appropriate action. We have no ability under current conduct regulations to prevent an officer from resigning.

“Our officers will carry out a thorough investigation into any complaint, irrespective of who the offender is. Sexism, misogyny and discrimination of any kind are deplorable and unacceptable. They have no place in policing.

“Progress has been made but there remains much work to do.

“We’re bringing additional focus to ensure our culture is welcoming and inclusive, including independent scrutiny and oversight by an Independent Review Group.”

Scottish Conservative Shadow Minister for Community Safety Russell Findlay said the figures were “shocking”.“Female officers of all ranks have long warned of the problems of misogyny and sexual misconduct within Police Scotland.

“The majority of decent officers are appalled by those who tarnish their good reputation with this type of behaviour, but they should also be frustrated at how these cases are often dealt with.

“Too often, they are met with a PR response to close ranks and protect Police Scotland’s image rather than an honest admission of there being any problem and fixing it.

“It is shocking that so many Police Scotland officers have been accused of sexual wrongdoing but have apparently not been held to account.”

The figures follow the harrowing case of Sarah Everard who was abducted and murdered by serving police officer Wayne Couzens while walking home in London.

Couzens will spend the rest of his life in jail after being sentenced in September, with the court hearing he used his position as a police officer and his warrant card as part of his abduction of Ms Everard.

It also emerged that Couzens had been accused of indecent exposure in 2015, but was allowed to transfer from Kent Police to the Metropolitan force.

The murder of Sarah Everard has led to nationwide discussions on how police services across the UK should respond to ensure women can feel safe when approached by a lone police officer.

Met Police commissioner, Cressida Dick, faced calls to resign after advising concerned women to flag down a bus if they don’t trust the police.

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

As part of its response, Police Scotland announced it would introduce a verification process which would see an officer’s personal radio to be put on loudspeaker for a member of the public to verify the officer’s identity with the control room.

An incident number will also be created to be displayed on the officer’s phone or radio to confirm the broadcast message details.

Tonight’s documentary will hear from one victim, Annie, who faced years of domestic abuse at the hands of PC Fraser Ross, who served in Police Scotland.

PC Ross avoided jail and was sentenced to three years community payback, 250 hours of unpaid work and a six-year non-harassment order. He also resigned a week before his sentence but kept his pension.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: "Fraser Ross's conduct fell far below the high standards of professional behaviour that the public rightly expects from policing and which the vast majority of officers and staff demonstrate every day.

"Police Scotland has no ability under current conduct regulations to prevent an officer from resigning. Had Fraser Ross remained a serving officer, his actions would have been considered for gross misconduct proceedings at the conclusion of the criminal matters."

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