15:52 GMT16 April 2021
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    The murder of Sarah Everard by a Met officer, and the manhandling of women during a vigil in her honour, have shed new light on the problem of women being abused by officers presumably tasked with ensuring their safety.

    Nearly 600 sex abuse complaints have been filed against Metropolitan police staffers between 2012 and 2018, the Observer has revealed, including claims that an investigating officer “took advantage” of a rape victim and “had sex with her on two occasions”.

    Out of 594 complaints against Met received in those years, only 119 were upheld, the media has revealed, following an information request in regards to sexual harassment, assault and rape accusations against officers amid the uproar over Sarah Everard’s death.

    One detailed case includes an allegation that a Metropolitan police officer had a “sexual relationship” with an unidentified woman from a refuge that houses victims of domestic violence. He was forced to leave the headquarters after relevant complaints about his behaviour was filed.

    Another off-duty special constable was sacked after being accused of raping a woman at a night club, while his Met colleague was said to have abused another female at her home after meeting her while on duty. The latter Met employee has received a verbal warning, the Observer says, which is the least severe punishment against law enforcement agents in cases of that kind.

    Meanwhile the officer who had sex with a rape victim was subsequently fired from his post, as well as 62 other staffers whose cases were apprehended by the Met. Other reviewed cases in the “abuse” catalogue have led to retirements or resignations among the staffers, but it’s not clear what has happened to the rest of the complaints, that have not been addressed yet.

    It also remains unclear whether any of the mentioned cases have entered into the criminal justice system, leading to sexual misconduct charges documented in sexual offence registers.

    “Disciplinary proceedings are no substitute for judicial proceedings,” former chief crown prosecutor Nazir Afzal explains.

    Afzal points out that the public expects “a higher standard from our protectors”.

    “The whole point of the police is that they work with the most vulnerable,” the ex-chief crown prosecutor notes.

    Meanwhile, the information disclosed by the Observer also unveils that some officers were accused of carrying out sexual abuse against their relatives or people close to them. One special constable was accused of raping his wife on “numerous times over eight years of marriage”, while another officer was suspected of raping and threatening to kill his partner, as well as “common assault”. Both Met employees were subsequently dismissed. 

    Protesters calling for greater public safety for women after the death of Sarah Everard, against the police handling of a gathering on Clapham Common in Sarah Everard's honour and against a proposed law that would give police more powers to intervene on protests hold up their mobile phones with their torches illuminated in Parliament Square in central London on March 14, 2021. - London's Metropolitan Police on Sunday defended its handling of a high-profile protest calling for greater public safety for women, after male officers were seen scuffling with the crowd and physically restraining female demonstrators. Hundreds defied coronavirus restrictions on Saturday night to gather on Clapham Common park to mark the death of Sarah Everard, who went missing nearby as she walked home earlier this month. A serving police officer with the London force has since been charged with her kidnap and murder.
    © AFP 2021 / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS
    Protesters calling for greater public safety for women after the death of Sarah Everard, against the police handling of a gathering on Clapham Common in Sarah Everard's honour and against a proposed law that would give police more powers to intervene on protests hold up their mobile phones with their torches illuminated in Parliament Square in central London on March 14, 2021. - London's Metropolitan Police on Sunday defended its handling of a high-profile protest calling for greater public safety for women, after male officers were seen scuffling with the crowd and physically restraining female demonstrators. Hundreds defied coronavirus restrictions on Saturday night to gather on Clapham Common park to mark the death of Sarah Everard, who went missing nearby as she walked home earlier this month. A serving police officer with the London force has since been charged with her kidnap and murder.

    These documented complaints of abuse against Met police officers have been seeing a new attention following the disappearance of 33-year-old Sarah Everard in London whose body was recently found in Kent county. 48-year-old Met officer Wayne Couzens was charged with her kidnapping and murder and is due to go on trial in autumn. The details around Everard’s murder remain unclear, as the first autopsy of her body has proved inclusive and information on the second one was not released to the public.

    Following Everard’s death, protesters gathered around London on 13 March to honour the woman and demand that police ensure safety on the streets of Britain’s capital. Some of them were later arrested by law enforcement agents, prompting an even bigger outcry.

    Tags:
    Sarah Everard, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, Metropolitan Police, London, United Kingdom
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