We'd all like the think that, in our time of need, the police are there to protect us. But according to a new report, criminals and sexual predators are repeatedly being let into the police force.
In fact, hundreds of police officers who should have failed vetting checks could be out there patrolling the streets in England and Wales, a report by the police watchdog has found. The watchdog looked at eight forces and found decisions on officers which were "questionable at best".
Among those accepted onto the force, one officer had been convicted of domestic abuse whilst another was accused of sexual assault – it comes just one year on from the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard at the hands of serving Metropolitan Police officer, Wayne Couzens.
Of 725 sample cases closely examined in the review, there were concerns about 131 officers who had been cleared to serve in police forces. Frighteningly, the watchdog said the true total could be much higher.
"It's far too easy for the wrong people to get in," said Inspector of Constabulary, Matt Parr, also noting that female officers had reported run-ins with their colleagues during the investigation.
"An alarming number [of female officers] alleged appalling behaviour by male colleagues," Parr added. "Almost without exception, they'd been on the receiving end of behaviour which absolutely has no place in the modern workplace."
The survey also found that most respondents thought their force's culture "discouraged prejudicial and improper behaviour", with men in general more positive about the culture.
But the report adds: "Despite these results, we found a culture where misogyny, sexism and predatory behaviour towards female police officers and staff and members of the public still exists."
In response to the police watchdog's findings, Zainab Gulamali, policy and public affairs manager at Women’s Aid, told Cosmopolitan UK: "Only one in five women report domestic abuse to the police, and, following a string of high-profile cases including Wayne Couzen's murder of Sarah Everard, women have told us their confidence in police is lower than ever."
Gulamali went on: "This is especially true for Black and minoritised women, Deaf and disabled, and those with insecure immigration status, who face extra barriers to accessing support. To strengthen women’s confidence in the police, force leaders must acknowledge a need for change, with robust responses to police perpetrators."
As for how the police force can improve, based on the findings of the new report, Gulamali said, "Mandatory training delivered by domestic abuse specialists is needed across all levels of police, as well as a fundamental change in attitudes.
"All police forces must challenge and eradicate any sexist, misogynistic and racist attitudes that exist within their organisations – and indeed throughout society – which we know normalise violence against women and girls."
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