Abuse involves the exploitation of an individual who is often vulnerable in some way by a person who is often in a position of power or authority. This position of power or authority could be due to a difference in age, job role, or position in society. When there are issues of abuse, we are told that this matter should be reported to the Police in order for justice to be served.
However, what is a vulnerable victim expected to do when the person who has abused his position of trust is in fact themselves a Police officer. Following the publication of a report from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, it is clear this is exactly the case for hundreds of people in England and Wales. The report in question refers to 436 allegations of abuse of power for sexual gain within a two-year period. More than a third of these allegations of abuse of authority involve victims of domestic abuse. It has been reported that there is only one Police Force in the country who had not received any allegations of this nature within the period examined.
Whilst the sheer volume of reports for sexual abuse of power for sexual gain is shocking, the reality is that there will be many vulnerable people who have not felt able to report or disclose being a victim of exploitation for sexual gain by a member of the Police force. Therefore, the numbers released are likely to be significantly higher in reality.
Rachel Thain of Slee Blackwell's abuse team says,
"These figures are extremely damaging to the faith the public has in the Police. It is important that these issues are tackled in a determined and timely manner. Our Police hold a special position of trust and authority and therefore have upon them a greater responsibility to behave in a certain way. These figures hugely undermine this. We must remember that these figures do not reflect the behaviour of every Police officer and those who have suffered a crime should still be encouraged to make a formal report. The punishment of officers found to be behaving in this manner should set an example of such individuals will not be tolerated within our justice system.”
What is of concern here in relation to the numerous cases where compensation for sexual abuse is sought from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, is that the likelihood of the Authority making an award of compensation to a victim of abuse or assaults is heavily based upon the response provided by the Police. Where we have Police officers who are willing to exploit their position of power in order to obtain sexual games from vulnerable individuals, the way in which the Authority approaches these matters can be considered to be concerning. It will be interesting to see whether the Authority has any response to make in relation to this report, as our concern would be that genuine victims have been prevented from obtaining compensation as a result of these issues.
If you have been affected by an assault from a Police officer, please contact our specialist abuse team on (0808) 139 1597. Our Rachel Thain has first-hand experience of successfully obtaining compensation from a Police force following inappropriate sexual behaviour of one of their officers. If you would like to contact her directly, this can be done by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.