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  1. ITV Report

Super-complaint to claim police forces allowing officers to abuse partners without fear of arrest or prosecution

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Lucy Watson

A "super-complaint" is to be launched against a number of police forces alleging systemic failings are allowing male officers to escape investigation for domestic abuse.

Legal charity the Centre for Women's Justice claims various forces are letting male officers abuse their partners without fear of arrest or prosecution.

ITV News has spoken to a number of women - some of them police officers - who say their force failed to act on claims of abuse.

Jodie joined the police nine years ago and had a relationship with a senior colleague who went on to be violent.

She said: "Despite it being 2019, I think there is still a boys' club culture."

Two women police officers have told ITV News their officer partner abused them. Credit: PA

She added: "He would flash knives in my face. He would grab me from behind in a choke hold and say, 'I could just choke you now if I wanted to'."

Despite reporting him to staff, her claims were ignored for years. The same man went on to abuse Sarah - another trainee police officer.

She told ITV News: "He told me essentially that if I told anybody they weren’t going to believe me because he’d been in the force for so long and had friends in high places...

"It's not confined to just one police force. It's all over the UK."

Both women's names have been changed to protect their identities. Their abuser was eventually found guilty of gross misconduct, but had already resigned from the force.

700
Women reported abuse at the hands of police staff in 3 years leading up to April last year

Harriet Wistrich from the Centre for Women's Justice hopes that by lodging the complaint later this month, it will force change.

"Police officers are getting away with being abusive," she said.

"They're committing criminal offences and getting away with it. Something needs to be done to change that, to inspire more confidence to encourage women to be able to report."

A super-complaint will be dealt with by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary & Fire & Rescue Services, as well as the College of Policing & the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

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Less than a quarter of abuse complaints ended in disciplinary action

HMICFRS said: "As and when a police super-complaint is made, it will be assessed jointly by HMICFRS, the College of Policing and the Independent Office for Police Conduct. Updates will be published on GOV.UK."

Meanwhile, the IOPC said it was aware the Centre for Women's Justice intended to lodge a super-complaint and, once received, would be assessed as to its eligibility.

An IOPC spokesperson said: “All allegations of domestic abuse should be treated seriously, irrespective of who the perpetrator is.

"Criminal allegations against police officers should be treated in the same way as those against members of the public.

"If domestic abuse is reported, this should be investigated and charged accordingly, which could result in conviction and/or misconduct proceedings.

“If victims are unhappy with the way a police force has investigated a crime, they can make a complaint about the way it was carried out, either to the police force itself or via the IOPC website."

The IOPC added that any complaint about how the case was handled may not necessarily lead to a review of the original investigation.