Police corruption openness urged
Police forces should be open about predatory sexual behaviour displayed by corrupt officers, one of the country's leading policemen has said.
Chief Constable Mike Cunningham, national policing lead for professional standards, was speaking after figures obtained by The Guardian showed that at least 169 police officers and support staff are being investigated for sex offences.
The newspaper reported that five of the 43 forces in England and Wales had not provided statistics and quoted an unnamed police source who suggested that some were "less than open about what is going".
"It could reasonably be argued that this is the most damaging issue forces are currently facing - it represents a serious breach of trust and erodes the public's trust in the police," Mr Cunningham said.
"The vast majority of forces have provided the information and I think that is the correct thing to do. It shows the public that forces are addressing the matter and taking it seriously.
"I don't know why a couple of forces did not want to do that - I don't know if there are specific issues they are concerned about. But on balance forces did provide the information and that is the right thing to do."
Two officers have been convicted in recent weeks for abusing their position to carry out sexual assaults or make inappropriate advances to members of the public and vulnerable victims of crime.
CID officer Jeffrey Davies, 42, will be sentenced at Swansea Crown Court on August 15 after being found guilty last week of sexually assaulting two female victims who came to him to report crimes. Last month Detective Constable Clifford Earl, 57, was jailed for 12 months for sexually assaulting two women in their own homes while on duty.
Mr Cunningham said that convictions were an encouraging sign that professional standards departments were pursuing cases and securing convictions where possible. He said that the matter of sexual offences committed by officers was discussed in June at a policing professional standards conference and pointed to new guidelines issued last year by the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
He said: "There are tens of thousands of police officers and staff serving communities with absolute integrity, but forces need to be diligent and have their antenna well tuned in to root out officers who undermine that This is a corruption issue - it is police officers who are using their position for personal gain. When we catch people behaving this way we should throw the book at them where evidence allows that to happen."