Merseyside Police leads way on tackling the abuse of position for a sexual purpose

Merseyside / October 05

Merseyside Police is leading the way in tackling the abuse of position for sexual purpose, an independent report on police legitimacy has today found.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) have today released a national report examining the work all police forces in England Wales are doing to plan around preventing the abuse of position for sexual purpose.

The reports highlights that only two Forces – Merseyside and Derbyshire – already have plans in place. Inspectors commended the two Forces for taking swift and decisive action to address this issue.

Other forces have been urged to follow the example set by Merseyside Police and Derbyshire Constabulary.

Lead inspector HMIC Mike Cunningham said: “Following the recommendation in our 2016 report, seventeen forces had made progress in developing and implementing plans. Derbyshire Constabulary and Merseyside Police already had plans in place, and are to be commended on their swift and decisive action. Other forces now need to follow suit, as the majority still have significant work to do to address this critical issue.”

The report has been welcomed by the region’s Police Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, who said: “The public must be able to trust the police implicitly and, when abuses of position for sexual gain take place, the impact is enormous.

“Merseyside Police clearly recognises the serious impact of such incidents on public confidence and is implementing a plan on how to identify and prevent such crimes from taking place.

“I join HMICFRS inspectors in applauding Merseyside Police for being at the forefront of this work. By being in this position, the public of Merseyside can be confident that the police in our region are meeting their high expectations.”

In December 2016, HMICFRS recommended that within 6 months all police forces in England and Wales should develop and begin to implement plans required to seek intelligence on potential abuse of position for a sexual purpose. Forces were asked to submit plans to HMICFRS by 31 May 2017 for review.

Upon review of individual force plans, HMICFRS found:

  • Eleven force plans contained insufficient information;
  • Fifteen others had plans but had not yet commenced implementation;
  • Fifteen had plans in place and had started implementation; and
  • Two already had all elements in place (Derbyshire Constabulary and Merseyside Police)

HMI Mike Cunningham, who led this inspection, said: “When police officers and police staff abuse their position for a sexual purpose it has a devastating effect on the lives of victims, and corrodes trust and confidence in the police. It is of great importance that forces are prepared to seek intelligence on this type of corruption, and when they find it deal with it vigorously and decisively.”

He added: “The importance of public trust in the police cannot be understated, and forces need to do everything they can to ensure this trust isn’t eroded. HMICFRS will be inspecting how forces have implemented these plans in 2018, so forces now have another opportunity to show they have understood the importance of this issue, and make progress. Between our feedback, the NPCC national strategy, changes to the IPCC referral criteria and College of Policing guidance we believe forces have all the information they need to get this right, so we expect to see an improved picture when we inspect next year.”

A full inspection of this and other elements of police legitimacy will be carried out by HMICFRS in 2018.

Read the full national report by HMICFRS here.