Nine Sussex Police staff returned to watchdog on suspicion of sexual abuse of position since 2019

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Sussex Police

The numbers were shared with Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne at a performance and accountability meeting on Tuesday, November 16.

Deputy Police Chief Julia Chapman said five referrals were made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) in 2020, four of which resulted in independent investigations.

In three of the cases, the officers face misconduct hearings on a date that has yet to be set – although one of them has since forcibly resigned.

The investigation of the fourth officer is complete and a final decision on next steps has yet to be made.

The fifth case was referred to the Sussex Police Professional Standards team for a local investigation, which found there was one serious misconduct case to answer.

In 2019, two referrals were made, both of which were investigated by the IOPC Fund.

One investigation ruled that the officer involved would have been dismissed without notice had he not already resigned from the force, while the other saw an evidence package sent to the CPS to investigate criminal charges.

Two more referrals have been made so far this year.

One of the officers is the subject of a criminal investigation by the IOPC, while the other faces a misconduct hearing with an evidentiary package sent to the CPS to review the criminal charges.

Ms Chapman, who heads the force’s professional standards department, said: “I am personally disappointed if any of our officers and staff are made aware of any violations, especially of this nature.”

While acknowledging that just one of those offenses was one too many, she pointed out that Sussex Police have more than 5,500 officers, staff and volunteers who are dedicated to their duty to protect the public.

She added, “All of our officers and staff are bound by the code of conduct which sets out our expectations very clearly – and these are what I would expect every member of our staff to respect personally as well.

“They joined the police in order to protect our communities, so anyone who takes action that undermines why they joined and what we all stand for is very disappointing to me.”

Last month it was reported that there had been 131 referrals to England and Wales for sexual abuse of position, up from 74 in 2016.

These referrals resulted in 70 and 10 inquiries, respectively.

Ms Chapman said at the meeting: “We have put a lot of effort into making sure people understand what the expectations are.

“We have a dedicated team – the Anti-Corruption Unit – within our Professional Standards Department that manages and assesses all forms of corruption. “

The anti-corruption unit is also represented in the National Abus of Position working group.

On top of that, the Sussex Police have set up a peer review with the Hampshire Police. Such peer reviews allow forces to share and learn from each other on how they work.

Police Chief Jo Shiner told Ms Bourne: “[We have] shamelessly high standards because, frankly, that’s what the public should and expect of us – and that’s what we strive to deliver.

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