Radio Sandwell Local News

West Midlands Police officers sexually exploited underage girls

2015-02-02 17:11:14

West Midlands Police
West Midlands Police

Three West Midlands Police officers abused their position of authority by sexually exploiting underage children in the last two years.

The predators in uniform were sacked or resigned after being convicted at court for targeting a 15-year-old and two 14-year-olds.

Meanwhile, other officers from the force have been dismissed or disciplined for a range of offences or conduct relating to sexual exploitation of members of the public.

Yet one cop was allowed to simply resign after being accused of having a sexual relationship with a 21-year-old suspect who was on bail. Another faced only 'management action' after being accused of flirting with a domestic violence victim.

West Midlands Police has also confirmed there are currently eight live investigations into claims officers and/or staff may have abused their positions of authority by sexual exploitation.

The shocking details were revealed after a Freedom of Information request by the Mail to the force.

We had asked for details of all cases of abuse of position of authority by sexual exploitation for 2012 to 2014.

After initially insisting it could not provide the information, the force eventually released data which showed 13 police officers and one civilian staff member had been accused of abuse of authority through sexual exploitation during that period. All were white.

The force refused to release details of the eight other live cases.

The most serious cases from 2012 saw the three police officers charged and convicted at court after targeting underage children.

One resigned after inappropriate sexual contact by text with a 15-year-old, while a second was said to have 'retired/resigned' after inciting a child under 16 to engage in sexual activity. The latter had been facing a discreditable conduct investigation over the alleged abuse of the 14-year-old victim.

The third officer was dismissed after "sexually assaulting a minor over a sustained period’", who was also just 14-years-old.

Lloyd House
Lloyd House, the West Midlands Police HQ

The Freedom of Information response also detailed other cases of abuse of power by sexual exploitation by West Midlands Police officers and staff.

One officer facing a discreditable conduct complaint in 2012 was alleged to have had a sexual relationship with a 21-year-old who was on bail. The cop resigned, bringing the investigation to a close.

The same year an officer was dismissed after entering into a relationship with a ‘vulnerable’ member of the public, age unknown, while another cop was sacked after being accused of a sexual assault in the workplace.

Also in 2012, another officer faced management action - advice about their conduct, the lowest form of disciplinary sanction - after being accused of making sexual suggestions to a member of the public, aged 30.

In 2013, the force sacked an officer who had been accused of breaching ‘honesty and integrity’ rules after he was alleged to have ‘‘lied to his supervisors to leave work early to have sex with a vulnerable female’’, who was aged 30.

The same year management action was taken against one officer after text messages showed he may have entered into an ‘‘inappropriate’’ relationship with a 27-year-old victim.

The force also took management action against another officer in 2014, who was accused of behaving inappropriately by flirting with a 34-year-old domestic violence victim.

Of the four remaining cases, the force ruled there was no case to answer against an officer accused of sexually discriminatory behaviour, or that of a staff member accused of sexually harassing a member of the public. A complaint was not upheld against an officer accused of acting inappropriately towards a complainant and allegations against another officer that they had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a member of the public was subject of a ‘disapplication’ - stopped by the force before an investigation began.

Last week it was revealed a report prepared by the former Serious Organised Crime Agency for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) had warned the number of police officers exploiting crime victims and witnesses for sex was increasing.

The nationwide investigation, compiled in 2013 and based on three years of intelligence, said officers abusing their positions for ‘sexual gratification’ was ‘a major concern’.

The findings formed part of a new report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) which showed that of 4,611 investigations nationally into alleged abuse of power, 2,891 did not lead to a prosecution or internal disciplinary action.

And in the 12 months to March 31 in 2014, a total of 406 officers and police staff were investigated for sexual misconduct, a four per cent rise on the previous year. One in six were allowed to retire or resign and around 40 per cent faced no further action.

The report added that the 43 police forces in England and Wales had done much to tackle corruption, but more proactive measures were needed to improve internal reporting systems, as half of all officers did not believe they were confidential enough.

Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham, from HMIC

HMIC inspector Mike Cunningham said he wanted to see “a more proactive approach by police leaders to identify officers likely to conduct themselves in this way and put preventative measures in their way. They have to be more vigilant. It is not decreasing and remains a significant problem.

“Police officers were quick to tell us that they see corrupt colleagues as a betrayal of the vast majority who are honourable, decent and hard-working.”

Jacqui Cheer of the Association of Chief Police Officers stressed corruption was “neither endemic nor widespread” and added: “However, the actions of a few corrupt officers can corrode the reputation of the vast majority who work hard every day to protect the public.

“We will continue to improve our approach so that those who are not fit to be in the police are held to account and removed.”

In 2012 the Independent Police Complaints Commission and Acpo published a report which said forces should make the prevention, detection and investigation of officers abusing their powers for sexual exploitation a priority.

Their joint report followed the case of Northumbria police constable Stephen Mitchell, 43, who was jailed for life in January 2011 for carrying out sex attacks on vulnerable women, including prostitutes while on duty.

Other high-profile cases include South Wales Police family liaison officer Detective Constable Jeffrey Davies, who was jailed for three years in 2013 for sexually assaulting victims of domestic abuse who he was supposed to be looking after.

West Midlands Police and Birmingham City Council are putting extra resources into tackling child sexual exploitation, after being criticised for failing vulnerable youngsters, including some thought to have fallen victim to on-street grooming gangs.

Yet the force previously controversially refused to release pictures of ten Birmingham men named in court as having sexually exploiting a 17-year-old girl. Court injunctions have now banned the men, all Asian, from approaching young girls.

High Court judge Mr Justice Keehan said police submissions that their safety would be at risk if their pictures were released “made no sense at all” – with the evidence provided “at best speculative.”

Warwickshire Police

WARWICKSHIRE POLICE

Last year the force sacked a police staff member for discreditable conduct relating to sexual exploitation of a 35-year-old member of the public. The force did not disclose the victim’s age. In 2013 the force investigated an officer and a civilian employee, both over allegations of sexual misconduct involving members of the public. One of the cases was dealt with by an intervention meeting by the anti-corruption unit, the other was filed with ‘no findings of misconduct’.

STAFFORDSHIRE POLICE

Four officers and staff were investigated for abuse of authority by sexual exploitation in 2012 and 2013. Figures were not disclosed for 2014. In 2012 one officer was investigated for discreditable conduct involving a member of the public whose age was not recorded. Investigations found there was a ‘case to answer’; the officer resigned. The following year two officers and one civilian member of staff were investigated for discreditable conduct relating to abuse of authority by sexual exploitation. A 55-year-old police officer was found to have a case to answer. He too was said to have retired/resigned. The force was unable to provide an age for the victim. A second police officer was found to have no case to answer over allegations they sexually exploited three women, two aged 35 and another aged 44. A civilian staff member was also exonerated over allegations of discreditable conduct involving a member of the public, whose age was not recorded by the force.

West Mercia Police

WEST MERCIA

Six West Mercia Police officers and staff were investigated for abuse of authority by sexual exploitation in 2012 and two in 2013. The force refused to disclose the number for 2014.Among those investigated in 2012 was an officer who was subsequently dismissed for ‘discreditable conduct/other sexual conduct’ involving three members of the public aged 28, 40 and 42.In the same year the force filed as ‘intelligence only’ an allegation of discreditable conduct against a civilian member of staff. The age of the victim was not recorded. In 2013 an officer was sacked and subjected to criminal proceedings over allegations of sexual misconduct involving two members of the public, aged 43 and 37.

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