England and Wales’ domestic abuse commissioner Nicole Jacobs says it is abundantly clear a zero-tolerance approach to domestic abuse within police ranks is needed and no perpetrator should be a serving officer.
While accepting there are far more good officers than bad, she added: “It’s plain that many abusers aren’t being dealt with properly, and we have heard reports of officers closing ranks and ignoring victims’ needs.”
In an opinion piece in the Guardian newspaper, she referred to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism uncovering nearly 700 reports of domestic abuse by British police officers in the three years to 2018 with just 3.9% resulting in a conviction in England and Wales.
She argued the problem can only be overcome by protecting victim confidentiality and having investigations handled externally.
“Unless there is a very good reason, when an allegation is made against an officer, it should immediately be sent to a neighbouring force to investigate – independent enough to do a proper investigation and near enough to facilitate local support services for the complainant,” she added.
Her comments follow the jailing of Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens for the rape and murder of Sarah Everard.
“Despite some protestations, this is not about one bad apple, but instead about institutional misogyny within our police forces and a wider failure to tackle violence and domestic abuse against women and girls,” Jacobs wrote.
With the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill working through Parliament, she called on the government to accept an amendment to include domestic abuse, domestic homicide and sexual violence in the proposal to place a duty on the police, probation services and other public bodies to prevent serious violence.