Call for police code of conduct following sex assaults

Northumbria Police.
Northumbria Police.

A REPORT from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is calling for a code of conduct to be implemented after a report showed more than 50 cases where officers and staff had allegedly taken sexual advantage of members of the public.

The report followed the case of Northumbria Police officer Stephen Mitchell, of Whitley Bay, who was convicted in 2011 of raping and sexually assaulting vulnerable women involved in criminal offences in Newcastle.

Mitchell, who was serving as a Pc in the city centre, made the women believe he was helping them but went on to sexually assault them.

The case prompted the IPCC to conduct the report.

It said there were cases other than that of Mitchell, who was jailed for life after a trial at Newcastle Crown Court, where officers across the country were abusing their position by sexually exploiting vulnerable people.

A total of 54 cases between April 2009 and March 2011 were referred to the IPCC in relation to sexual assault or exploitation.

Anne Owers, chairwoman of the IPCC, said: “The abuse of police powers for purposes of sexual exploitation, or even violence, is something that fundamentally betrays the trust that communities and individuals place in the police.

“It therefore has a serious impact on the public’s confidence in individual officers and the service in general.

“Each of the cases in this report is evidence of that.

“Together, they reveal a number of themes that underlie this kind of behaviour.

“The report is a first step and it is likely that further work and resources will be required to build on what has already been established.

“The IPCC will give greater focus to such cases, launching independent investigations wherever possible.

“The police service must do everything in its power to prevent such abuse, identify as soon as possible when cases do occur, deal with them effectively and learn from them.”

The aim of the report is to better equip police forces to tackle the problem and therefore increase public confidence and said police forces should make the prevention, detection and investigation of officers abusing their powers for sexual exploitation a higher priority.