A police officer is abusing me – where can I turn?

The HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, College of Policing and Independent Office for Police Conduct have released their report on the super-complaint submitted by the Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ). The super complaint was submitted by the CWJ, working with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, in respect of the way in which police systems operate where police officers are accused of domestic abuse.

What is a super complaint?

A police super complaint is submitted by specially designated organisations, such as the CWJ, on behalf of the public about harmful trends in policing. The relevant bodies then respond to the complaint with a written report, outlining, among other matters, what those bodies have decided should be done as a result of the complaint.

Investigation into police perpetrated domestic abuse

The CWJ has been contacted by 165 women, who give accounts of failures to investigate allegations of police perpetrated domestic abuse, corrupt conduct within the police in relation to such allegations, and criminalisation and victimisation of those who report the abuse. The CWJ’s original super complaint, based on 19 initial case studies, examined the ways in which victims are being let down when reporting abusive police officers to the police. Some examples of these failings are as follows:

  • Failures in investigations of police perpetrated domestic abuse
  • Improper manipulation of police processes
  • Improper responses to complaints/concerns
  • Accused officers using the police knowledge, status and power
  • Improper decisions on criminal charges
  • Abused women arrested
  • Workplace victimisation of women who are police officers (who have reported fellow police officers for domestic abuse)

The response to the complaint found that forces are not properly recognising or responding to the issue of police perpetrated domestic abuse, and recommendations are made in an attempt to improve the police response.

A recent CWJ article confirms that “many of the extremely concerning issues identified in the Centre for Women’s Justice super-complaint are [confirmed] in [the response].”

This expansive but worrying examination exposes a culture of sweeping domestic abuse allegations under the carpet when the perpetrator is a police officer.

What can I do if I have been abused by a police officer?

If you have been abused by a police officer and they have failed to investigate it properly, there are various options that may be available to you. These options include:

  1. Victims’ Right to Review (VRR) application
    1. This can be pursued where the police have decided to take no further action in a criminal case and you would like to challenge that decision.
    2. Civil claim for damages under the Human Rights Act 1998
      1. Generally speaking, this can be pursued where the police have failed to properly investigate a credible allegation of domestic abuse.

Saunders Law specialises in aiding the victims of abuse at the hands of the police, whether that is in a domestic context or otherwise. If you are a victim or you know a victim who needs help, contact our human rights team today on 0207 632 4300 to explore what remedies may be available to you.


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