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Sexual misconduct investigations involving Police Scotland officers rise in shock revelation

Politicians described the figures as highlighting the presence of ‘sexist bullying and a boys’ club culture’ in the police.

Credit: Scottish Daily Express Trainee Reporter Eve Beattie

10.08 16 OCT 2022

Latest figures presented to the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) show that reports of sexual misconduct rose from four to 29 in one year.
Latest figures presented to the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) show that reports of sexual misconduct rose from four to 29 in one year.

The number of Scottish police officers facing allegations of sexual misconduct has risen over the last year, according to shock new statistics.

A seven-fold increase in complaints has been recorded in just one year, figures from Police Scotland confirmed.

The force believes the increase has been caused by the increase to greater awareness of the issue due to high-profile cases such as the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, by Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens last year.

Latest figures presented to the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), the body with oversight of policing in Scotland, show that while there were four complaints of sexual misconduct by police officers and staff in 2021, that figure soared to 29 in the past year.

The seven-fold increase was ‘welcomed’ by the senior officer presenting the figures to the SPA’s complaints and conduct committee.

Chief Superintendent John Paterson told SPA members: “I welcome the rise, cautiously. I do believe there is an increased awareness and increased confidence in coming forward.”

In London, a specialist domestic and sexual offences unit established by the Met to investigate claims made against police officers and staff is dealing with 625 complaints.

In Scotland, the same reporting period which threw up the huge rise in sexual misconduct claims also revealed a jump in the number of employees alleged to have been involved in the use and supply of controlled drugs. The figure was nine in 2021 but had increased to 26 this year, an increase of around 200 per cent reports the Daily Mail.

The Police Scotland report stated there was “no clear contributory factor” identified in relation to controlled drug use and supply but the increase in sexual misconduct claims was “a trend following increased media reporting in this area.”

There was an overhaul in the way Police Scotland handles complaints following a damning report two years ago by Dame Elish Angiolini, a former Lord Advocate, who made 81 recommendations to improve complaint handling. In six cases in the last year, the accused individual was able to resign before facing a hearing.

Scottish Conservative community safety spokesman Russell Findlay said: “Many brave women in Scottish policing have spent years telling of sexist bullying and a boys’ club culture, which was confirmed in Dame Elish Angiolini’s watershed report.

“Police Scotland might spend less money on slick PR initiatives and more effort rooting out wrongdoers while the SNP Government need to stop dithering and finally establish a credible complaints system.”

Alys Mumford of Engender, which campaigns against violence towards women, said: “Police Scotland must be proactive in tackling misogyny, racism and all other forms of prejudice which we know exist throughout the institution and in working towards women’s equality in Scotland.”

Chief Superintendent Catriona Henderson said: “Police Scotland officers will respond to all reports of sexual crime, irrespective of who the offender is, and will be responsive to the needs of a victim.”