'Super-complaint' launched against Lancashire Police and others over domestic abuse claims

Lancashire Constabulary has received 12 reports of domestic abuse-related incidents perpetrated by its own staff, a charity’s lawyers say.

Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 5:00 pm
Centre for Womens Justice has submitted a super-complaint to the Police Inspectorate highlighting the systemic failures women are experiencing by forces nationally

The cases in Lancashire in the three years to April 2018 were among more than 650 across England and Wales.

The reports were discovered through Freedom of Information requests submitted the Centre for Women’s Justice to all police forces, for domestic abuse-related incidents and offences perpetrated by officers, PCSOs and other staff.

They include both incidents where a crime was recorded by police and where they decided there was no notifiable crime.

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All reports in Lancashire are currently investigated by the same police force that employs the accused staff, as is the norm nationwide.

Using the 666 reports of domestic abuse across England and Wales, the CWJ has submitted a “super-complaint” to the Police Inspectorate highlighting the “systemic failures” women are experiencing.

In addition, the charity has been contacted by 81 women nationally who have felt let down by the service after they reported domestic abuse and sexual offences committed by police.

The charity hopes that even more women will come forward.

A recurring theme heard from women nationwide was how their partners would intimidate them by claiming they would never be believed, with one saying her partner threatened to throw her in jail if she reported him.

One of the women included in the super-complaint said she felt “incredibly let down by the police” and feared becoming a victim for the second time.

A CWJ report added: “At the heart of the concerns is lack of integrity, of officers manipulating the system and acting in bad faith in a variety of ways.

“Without doubt there are cases that are dealt with properly, but we conclude that there is such a risk of policing systems being abused, that this should be reflected in special arrangements for such cases.”

The charity hopes that the super-complaint, under a system created in 2018 to raise wider issues about policing, will bring about an investigation and some systemic changes. They include having all reports against police staff looked into by a neighbouring police force.

Nogah Ofer, a solicitor at CWJ, said: “We are concerned about a ‘locker-room culture’ that trivialises violence against women, where loyalty towards fellow officers and concern about impact on their careers may be getting in the way of justice for women who report abuse.”

A spokesman for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services said they had received the super-complaint and will assess it alongside the College of Policing and the Independent Office for Police Conduct to see if it is eligible for investigation.