Hampshire police officer investigated for rape is among dozens of sexual assaults complaints in 5 years

A HAMPSHIRE police officer investigated for rape is among dozens of PCs who have faced allegations of sexual misconduct over a five-year period.

Monday, 11th October 2021, 4:55 am

The allegation against the police constable, made in 2020, is among 38 rape and sexual assault allegations recorded against officers between 2016-2020.

Details have emerged following a freedom of information request from the PA news agency. Many cases resulted in complaints not being upheld or there being no case to answer.

Another Hampshire officer was, last year, complained about by a member of the public for ‘sexualised comments’.

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The male PC was told to improve his practice. The case was classed as ‘practice requiring improvement,’ meaning the conduct ‘(fell) short of the expectations of the public and the police service’.

The classification is less serious than misconduct or gross misconduct charges that could result in dismissal.

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Another male PC was investigated for sexual assault during a search, and another for sexual harassment.

Hampshire chief constable Olivia Pinkney. Picture: Sarah Standing (160563-482)

A male PC is facing a misconduct meeting after being told he has a case to answer over an allegation of abusing his authority for sexual gain.

The investigations were current at the time the FOI responses were received.

In 2019 a complaint about a police staff member committing a ‘sexual assault during search’ was dealt with by ‘local resolution’ – used when disciplinary proceedings are not justified.

And a police sergeant in 2018 was given a written warning for sexual assault following a misconduct meeting. A PC was sacked the same year for sexual assault.

It comes as home secretary Priti Patel has ordered a review into vetting practices, professional standards and discipline, and workplace behaviour following ‘systematic failures’ by police in relation to Sarah Everard’s murder.

Met police officer Wayne Couzens was handed a whole life jail term after he used his warrant card and handcuffs to snatch the marketing executive as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.

Among the cases looked at by Hampshire police, 12 resulted in no case to answer, 12 were not upheld and in four investigators said the officer had provided ‘acceptable service’.

Two complaints were withdrawn, one was discontinued and one was disapplied – meaning it was no longer dealt with by the complaints process.

The data does not say if the officers were on or off duty at the time the alleged incidents occurred.

In the wake of sacked PC Couzens’ jailing, Hampshire chief constable Olivia Pinkney penned an open letter aimed at regaining women’s trust.

She said: ‘We want women to be reassured that the police are here to protect them.’

A Hampshire police spokesman added: ‘We expect all our officers and staff to uphold the highest levels of professionalism and integrity at all times, whether on or off duty, and we do not accept any conduct that does not meet these standards.

‘Policing is built upon the values of professionalism, compassion, courage and integrity and the public have a right to expect the highest standards from the officers and staff who are entrusted to keep them safe.

‘Any breach of those professional standards is unacceptable and we have a robust system in place so that they can be reported and investigated thoroughly.

‘Each public complaint and allegation of misconduct is assessed to identify if there are any criminal offences that have taken place.

‘There is a mandatory referral process for sexual offences to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) who will determine primacy of investigation.

‘Criminal allegations are dealt with in the same way as an allegation against any member of the public and are considered alongside any misconduct process.

'Since February 2020, under the IOPC guidance, we are required to record every complaint, irrespective of whether it is spurious or malicious. This includes where the officer’s body worn video clearly disputes the allegation being made.

‘We have worked, and continue to work, extremely hard as an organisation to ensure people understand the standards of behaviour expected of them, to be ethical and inclusive of all and to give staff the confidence to challenge on the rare occasions when behaviours fall below that which is acceptable.’

Prime minister Boris Johnson said there is ‘a massive job’ to be done in restoring women’s confidence in police after Couzens kidnapped, raped and murder Ms Everard.

The End Violence Against Women Coalition, which includes groups like Rape Crisis, Refuge and Women's Aid, said few officers face ‘any meaningful consequences’ for violence against women and girls nationally.

The News reported in June how a former Portsmouth police officer was barred from the service.

Ex-PC Simon Hawxwell was based at Portsmouth Central police station when he left his colleague ‘scared’ fearing her face would be ‘sliced’ with scissors after she challenged him for saying a post should be filled by a woman with ‘massive’ breasts.

A misconduct hearing was told he held scissors 2in away from the woman’s face on June 17 last year, having told her to ‘shut your dirty little whore mouth’.

The day before Hawxwell wrapped his arm around her neck, making it ‘difficult’ for her to breathe, while asking her if she liked being choked during sex.

The panel hearing the case against him was told he was ‘very much a Jekyll and Hyde’ character.

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