police officer

Zero Police Scotland staff investigated for domestic abuse removed from roles since 2018

None of the Police Scotland staff reported for domestic abuse have been removed from their jobs by the force since 2018. 

Scores of staff have been accused of emotional and physical abuse in the last four years, a freedom of information (FoI) request by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has revealed, but zero have been dismissed in relation to the accusations.

Sixty-seven have been subject to domestic violence complaints between January 2018 to September 2021 ⁠— averaging two per month. 

Seven were convicted by the force — 10 per cent in total. Investigations into ten of the staff are still ongoing, and another ended because the staff member resigned. 

Another eleven staff retired or resigned amid being reported, exempting them from dismissal proceedings. Under the force’s conduct regulations, a police officer can resign or retire even if they are reported for the crime, drawing any conduct investigations to a close. 

Forty eight of the staff accused are still working for Police Scotland.

The figures follow The Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s investigation in 2018 into members of the police exploiting their position to avoid arrest, leaving the victims of abusers struggling to find justice. 

The Met came under the spotlight after one of its serving officers, Wayne Couzens, exploited his police powers to kidnap, rape and murder Sarah Everard in March 2021, claiming the 33-year-old woman had broken lockdown rules before placing her under arrest. 

Couzens, nicknamed “the rapist” by colleagues, was also arrested for indecent exposure before he was hired by the Met. 

Up to one million incidents of domestic abuse go unreported in Scotland.

Clare Elliott, Glasgow East Women’s Aid

Clare Elliott, who works with domestic abuse victims for Glasgow East Women’s Aid, has been closely following the Met’s treatment of officers accused of sex crimes since the case. 

Elliot said: “After looking at the figures, I worry Police Scotland is not doing any better. 

“The significance for us is a lot of the women we work with day in, day out, don’t have any connections to the police, and they still won’t report to the police,” she told The Ferret. “They don’t trust them, or they’re frightened they won’t be believed.

“If these women read about the number of serving officers reported for domestic abuse, and the fact that nothing seems to come of it, it’s not going to make them feel any more comfortable coming forward and reporting to the police.

“It’s worth pointing out that the statistics published on domestic abuse are those cases that go reported. Up to one million incidents of domestic violence go unreported in Scotland”. 

Martha Scott, the CEO of Scottish Women’s Aid, said: “The accountability and responsibility of gender-based violence should not exclude those who are in positions of power”. 

She told The Ferret: “Our job is supporting survivors of domestic abuse. If women have anxieties or worries about contacting local police or reporting, our national helpline and their local Women’s Aid group can contact the Domestic Abuse Task Force on her behalf for advice. 

“If their abuser is in the police and has local involvement, the national task force will oversee the case.

“Every step of the way, we are there to support the decision making of survivors – the people who best know their own level of risk and what is safest for them”.

Detective Chief Superintendent John Paterson, Police Scotland, said: “Tackling domestic abuse is a priority for Police Scotland.  

“Our approach is victim-centred but our investigation is perpetrator focused irrespective of who the offender is and this includes when reports of criminality are made against our officers and staff,” Paterson said.

“Allegations of criminality are fully and professionally investigated and reported to the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service.

“Where allegations concern a serving officer, or member of police staff, an assessment of their status is undertaken which can result in duty restrictions or suspension.

“Police Scotland demands the highest levels of integrity from officers and staff and when someone fails to meet this standard we take the appropriate action”. 

A spokesperson for the Scottish Police Authority said: “There are established checks and balances in place for dealing with any officer or staff member where their conduct has fallen below the expected standards. 

“In addition, the SPA regularly scrutinises detailed information about Police Scotland’s performance in relation to complaints and conduct matters”. 

If you feel scared of your partner or if you are worried about someone you know, get in touch with Scotland’s 24 hour Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline on 0800 027 1234 email helpline@sdafmh.org.uk or visit sdafmh.org.uk.

Photo thanks to Piqsels

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