Women domestically abused by police officers feel “doubly powerless” as their abusers are too often protected from facing justice, campaigners say.
The Centre For Women’s Justice (CWJ) has submitted a super-complaint claiming failures among police forces.
They cite the cases of 19 women, including police officers, from 15 force areas who have been victims of abuse, violence, stalking and rape.
It has been submitted to HM Chief Inspector of Constabularies.
The CWJ said that while “without doubt there are cases that are dealt with properly”, a central concern was “police abusers are being protected and not brought to justice” because of their positions.
The super-complaint, which is supported by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, said victims “feel doubly powerless“.
“They experienced the powerlessness that most domestic abuse victims experience, but in addition their abuser is part of the system intended to protect them,” the report said.
It calls for changes including:
- Victims being able to report their claims to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) rather than a police force
- Neighbouring police forces investigating such claims “should be the norm”
- Officers guilty of abuse also being subject to misconduct procedures (Editor: Not covered up by police)
- Restrict officers facing allegations from working with victims of domestic or sexual abuse
One of the women who gave her story to the CWJ told the BBC her ex-husband physically and sexually abused her as well using coercive and financial control. (Editor: Another women gave us her story relating to her ex ‘police’ partner of Norwich police.)
She said she reported him to his force, Northumbria Police, but no action was taken against him either criminally or by professional standards.
“He used to say to me ‘I’m a police officer no-one is going to believe you‘,” she said.
The woman, who is from Tyneside, said police lost evidence she provided and her husband was given her witness statement, which later went missing from the system.
She also said her husband accessed her medical records and “got access to a lot of things” civilians would not be able to get.
“There’s nowhere to go. When it’s a police officer they can find you anywhere, they can trace your car,” she said
“If you try and prosecute someone who is a police officer, they know the court system and what questions they are going to be asked.”
Northumbria Police said the BBC’s refusal to share details of the case meant it was “unable to search our records to trace any report or potential subsequent investigation”.
But a spokesperson said all complaints of domestic abuse were “subject to a thorough and unbiased investigation” irrespective of who the suspect is.
The BBC did not reveal the officer’s name to the force out of a duty of care to the woman.
The super-complaint cites a number of examples of no criminal charges being brought despite victims making reports and claiming to supply evidence.
It also refers to cases where no misconduct proceedings took place, with one woman who claimed she was raped being told superiors would have a “quiet word” with the suspect.