Call for suspension of all police and staff accused of violence against women

By Staff

A petition with more than 50,000 signatures calling for police officers and staff accused of violence against women and girls to be suspended while claims are investigated has been delivered to Downing Street by a women’s charity.

Refuge took the document to Westminster on Thursday, a year to the day since a damning review by Baroness Louise Casey found that Britain’s largest police force is institutionally racist, homophobic and misogynistic.

The charity, which supports victims of domestic abuse, submitted the document as part of its Remove the Rot campaign.

Under current procedures, there is no obligation for police forces to suspend officers or staff being investigated for allegations of violence against women and girls.

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Abigail Ampofo, interim chief executive of Refuge, said: “It is deeply shocking to Refuge that it is not currently mandatory for police officers and staff to be suspended, pending investigation, when they are accused of violence against women and girls. In any other profession, suspension would be the norm, as would frequent vetting, so what makes policing any different?”

“As an institution who are supposed to protect the public from harm, the police should be held to the highest of standards and any allegations of abuse against officers should be treated with the utmost seriousness. At Refuge, it is our hope that this petition, signed by so many people, will show the Home Secretary that enough is enough.”

“It is time that we remove the rot from police forces across the country and start restoring women’s trust in policing to protect them.”

Earlier this month an inquiry by Lady Elish Angiolini found that a series of red flags were missed about serial sex offender Wayne Couzens before he went on to murder.

In response the Home Office announced that all officers charged with indictable offences the most serious crimes that can only be dealt with by crown courts would be automatically suspended from duty.

But this would not include alleged offences such as indecent exposure, with police chiefs having the power to decide whether to suspend in those cases.

The move does not extend to police staff, and only applies once criminal charges have been brought.

According to Refuge, around a quarter of police officers and staff facing such accusations were suspended from duty last year while the claims were investigated.

It obtained data from 26 forces in England and Wales under the Freedom of Information Act that showed there were VAWG-related misconduct or gross misconduct across those forces in the year to May 1 2023, and 24% of those accused were suspended.

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