More than 80% of UK police kept jobs after being accused of domestic abuse

Data shows that 82% of UK police employees are still working despite being reported for alleged domestic abuse.

A joint investigation by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) and ITV has found that a total of 82% of police officers and staff from across the UK kept their jobs even after being accused of alleged domestic abuse over the last three years.

That’s eight out of 10 police employees who have been reported for alleged domestic abuse but are still serving. Only a small fraction have been disciplined or dismissed.

Misogyny and poor leadership

According to experts and campaigners, the data is further evidence of serious issues in policing, not only in relation to misogyny in the ranks but also the failure of leadership to deal with such allegations.

A series of freedom of information requests by TBIJ received replies from 41 forces across the UK. They found that 1,319 officers and staff from across the UK were reported for domestic abuse between January 2018 to September 2021. Of those, 1,080 were still serving.

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More than 80% of UK police kept jobs after being accused of domestic abuse SOPA Images / Getty Images

The figures also show very few officers were disciplined over the allegations and only a handful lost their jobs.

Disciplinary actions, including written warnings or suspension, were taken against 120 employees less than 9% of the total.

Only 36 employees, 2.7% of the total reported, were dismissed, while 203 either resigned or retired or left for other reasons.

Not only did they keep their jobs, police officers and staff across the country were more likely on average to avoid prosecution. Theconviction rate of police employees for domestic abuse is just 3.4%, lower than the 6.3% in the general population.

For example, the Met - the largest force - received 398 domestic abuse reports against police employees, with nine people being dismissed and 336 still serving.

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Alarming figures

Chief executive of the charity Refuge, Ruth Davison, described the figures as alarming:

We see that there is a problem of misogyny, not just in the Met police but right across the police force. The whole of the police force needs radical culture change.
I can’t really overstate how serious this is. Domestic abuse is fundamentally about power and control, the abuse of power. And police officers do have power; they’re supposed to use that for our benefit to uphold the law and to keep us safe.

A spokesperson for the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

The mayor has been very clear about the scale of the change he believes is urgently required to rebuild the trust and confidence of Londoners in the Met – including change right at the top – in order to root out any misogyny and sexism that still exists. This is vital to ensuring that Londoners feel confident that any allegations against police officers are taken seriously.

The shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, Jess Phillips, said:

The police have got to undertake huge reforms to ensure women and girls feel safe and that has to start with them. When cases are brought against police officers, they must act without fear or favour, and act accordingly.
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