At least 750 sexual misconduct claims against UK police officers in five years

At least 750 allegations of sexual misconduct were made against serving police officers across Britain over five years, with the highest number made against Greater Manchester police (GMP), figures show.

More than 150 GMP officers have been accused of sexual assault, according to data obtained by PA Media under the Freedom of Information Act from 31 police forces.

There are 43 police forces covering England and Wales, as well as Police Scotland and the British Transport Police.

Last month inspectors issued an unprecedented warning about public safety in Greater Manchester after finding serious failings in the region’s force, which has been in special measures for nearly a year.

Forces in England, Wales and Scotland were asked how many complaints of sexual assault were made against serving police officers between 2016 and 2020. Complaints could relate to historical allegations and most, where the officer’s sex was recorded, accused male officers, the data shows.

A publicly available response to a different freedom of information request revealed that the Met – the UK’s largest police force – recorded 530 allegations of sexual offences against serving officers and staff members between 2016 and 2020.

Of the 158 accusations made against GMP, 130 were against male officers and 11 against female officers, with details unknown in 17 instances.

Terry Woods, the GMP deputy chief constable, said the force would not “shy away” from demonstrating to the public that it was taking action against such behaviour.

“Any abuse of position for sexual purpose is absolutely unacceptable. Greater Manchester police is the second largest force in the country and we will not stand for any behaviour which does not reflect the high level of professionalism and integrity we expect of our officers,” he said.

According to anonymised misconduct outcomes over the last six months on GMP’s website, the cases include:

Outcomes of misconduct hearings are published on the GMP website for 28 days. The former prime minister Theresa May, who introduced some measures to improve transparency around police misconduct hearings, has said it is “immensely disappointing” that some police hearings are still held in private and “the process of notifying the public of the results of those hearings is still worryingly opaque”.

GMP said it was “transparent with misconduct hearings and their outcomes in line with national Home Office guidelines. We publish the dates of hearings on our website in advance so people can attend. The decision to hold them in public or in private is made by the chair, who is independent of the force, and who bases that decision on representations by GMP and the officer.”

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