New guidance calls for severe disciplinary action against officers who commit violence against women and girls

The College of Policing has issued new guidance on police misconduct proceedings which emphasises the need to maintain public confidence in policing and includes a specific section on officers who commit violence against women and girls.

Misconduct proceedings are used to deal with improper behaviour by police officers when it is deemed to be so serious as to justify disciplinary proceedings. The guidance sets out the framework to assess the seriousness of conduct and impose disciplinary action where a case against an officer is proven. The outcomes for a proven case of misconduct can range from a written warning to dismissal without notice.

The latest update contains a new section on violence against women and girls which states: “Policing has come under national scrutiny through high-profile cases where there has been a failing to prevent or protect women and girls from abuse and violence, and/or violence has been perpetrated by those serving the police. It is imperative that policing makes it clear that misconduct of this nature is wholly unacceptable, setting a clear expectation as to the seriousness to which these matters are treated.”

The guidance goes on to state that violence against women and girls perpetrated by an officer will always have a “high degree of culpability, with the likely outcome being severe”.

The implication of this is that officers should be dismissed where such cases are proven. This has been supported by Chief Constable Andy Marsh, College of Policing CEO, who has commented: “Officers who commit violence towards women and girls should expect to be sacked and barred from re-joining the police. There is no place in policing for anyone who behaves in a way that damages the public’s trust in us to keep them safe.”[1]

The update has followed a number of high-profile cases, most notably the shocking abduction and murder of Sarah Everard by former police officer Wayne Couzens.

The Independent Office for Police (IOPC) found last year that investigations into alleged ‘abuse of position for a sexual purpose’ had risen sharply over the previous three years, with these amounting to 60% of corruption investigations that they dealt with in the last year.[2] An IOPC report has further called for an overhaul of the culture of the Metropolitan Police after an investigation uncovered behaviour described as “disgraceful and… well below the standards expected of the officers involved[3], including violent, misogynist and discriminatory messages.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh has called for “a misconduct system which is transparent, timely and isn’t afraid to show the door to officers who betray our values”. It is hoped that the tougher approach taken in the latest guidance can begin to combat a toxic culture in policing which allows misogyny to prevail.

Saunders Law welcomes the new guidance and considers that misconduct investigations need to be thorough with tougher sanctions imposed when cases are proven.




Saunders Law specialises in aiding the victims of abuse at the hands of the police. If you are a victim or you know a victim who needs help, contact our human rights team today on 0207 632 4300 or make an enquiry and we will contact you.


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