Sexual harassment in the police service

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2013 Police & Justice Conference
11 June 2013

Conference notes the 2012 Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report The abuse of police powers to perpetrate sexual violence.

In particular, conference notes that in the report, it was found that “clear boundaries about what is acceptable behaviour and what is not will assist and give confidence to supervising officers and colleagues to recognise and deal with worrying behaviour, and identify early indicators which they might think are inappropriate but fall short of misconduct.”

The report also found that “opportunities were missed to capture and act upon information about the officers’ conduct. This includes information about behaviour towards colleagues, as well as members of the public.” The report goes on to make a series of recommendations, which include a checklist for police forces.

However, conference notes that these recommendations do not address the issue of sexual harassment and violence within the service, between officers, staff and volunteers.

Conference therefore welcomes the joint working taking place between UNISON, the British Association of Women in Policing (BAWP), the Police Federation and the Police Superintendents Association to develop a wide-ranging sexual harassment survey to establish the scale of the problem within the service.

Conference calls upon the Service Group Executive (SGE) to:

1)use the findings from the survey to enter into discussions with all appropriate parties to produce guidelines on dealing with incidents of sexual harassment within the police service, including effective and safe reporting mechanisms;

2)seek to ensure that where services are privatised, the police service has the same powers over the conduct of contracted staff as it has over directly employed staff, and that the checks on such staff are as robust as for directly employed staff, in line with the recommendations of the IPCC report.