Fears cor­rupt po­lice of­fi­cers act as ‘ sex­ual preda­tors’

The Scotsman - - FRONT PAGE - By CHRIS MAR­SHALL

Po­lice Scot­land’s Anti- Cor­rup­tion Unit ( ACU) has raised con­cerns that of­fi­cers are abus­ing their po­si­tion to carry out “preda­tory sex­ual be­hav­iour”.

The AC Us aid it had re­ceived 22 re­fer­rals re­lat­ing to al­leged sex­ual mis­con­duct in the year to 31 March, up from 17 the pre­vi­ous year. And it said it was mon­i­tor­ing 13

se­ri­ous or­gan­ised crime groups ( SOCGS) amid fears they could be at­tempt­ing to cor­rupt serv­ing of­fi­cers.

In a re­port for the Scot­tish Po­lice Au­thor­ity( SPA ), it said: “The abuse of po­si­tion by po­lice of­fi­cers or mem­bers of po­lice staff in or­der to con­duct preda­tory sex­ual be­hav­iour re­mains a con­cern within Po­lice Scot­land and across the UK.”

The ACU also recorded an in­crease in al­le­ga­tions re­lat­ing to of­fi­cers be­ing in­volved in the use and sup­ply of ille - gal drugs ( 51 cases) and of per­vert­ing the course of jus­tice ( 23 cases).

How­ever, it said the rise was due to the more “pro- ac­tive” role be­ing un­der­taken by the unit, which was formed fol­low­ing the over­haul of the con­tro­ver­sial Counter Cor­rup­tion Unit ( CCU) in 2016.

Scot­tish Greens jus­tice spokesman John Fin­nie, con­vener of Holy­rood’s jus­tice sub- com­mit­tee on polic­ing, said he in­tended to raise the is­sue of sex­ual mis­con­duct in the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment next week. He said: “The pub­lic de­serve the fullest pro­tec­tion from preda­tory sex­ual be­hav­iour, what­ever its source.

“I’ m keen to un­der­stand what steps Po­lice Scot­land have taken or will take to ad­dress such crim­i­nal con­duct within its midst.”

Last month, a for­mer un­der­cover of­fi­cer claimed Po­lice Scot­land has a cor­rup­tion prob­lem as a re­sult of be­ing in­fil­trated by crim­i­nal gangs.

Neil Woods, who is part of the Law En­force­ment Ac­tion Part­ner­ship( Leap ), said cor­rup­tion had oc­curred in Eng­land and“guar­an­teed” it would also be hap­pen­ing in Po­lice Scot­land.

He said most po­lice of­fi­cers were in­cor­rupt­ible, but a mi­nor­ity could be in­flu­enced.

Mr Woods said the is­sue was “en­demic and can­not be de­fended against” un­less drugs pol­icy was re­formed to take the dis­tri­bu­tion of il­licit sub­stances out of the hands of or­gan­ised crime.

Sandy Brind­ley, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Rape Cri­sis Scot­land, said the al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct were a par­tic­u­lar worry.

She said: “This is re­ally con­cern­ing. The po­lice are in a po­si­tion of power. If it is the case that of­fi­cers are en­gag­ing in preda­tory sex­ual be­hav­iour, then we would ex­pect strong ac­tion to be taken.

“There can be real bar­ri­ers to re­port­ing any form of sex­ual mis­con­duct such as sex­ual ha­rass­ment or sex­ual as­sault.

“That’s par­tic­u­larly the case if it’s a po­lice of­fi­cer and peo­ple can re­ally worry about be­ing be­lieved. It’s so im­por­tant that the po­lice take this se­ri­ously and have clear pro­ce­dures in place.”

Fig­ures from the ACU show the num­ber of al­le­ga­tions of “in­ap­pro­pri­ate as­so­ci­a­tion”, where of­fi­cers put them­selves at risk of dis­clos­ing in­tel­li­gence to crim­i­nals, fell from 26 to 22 cases last year.

The unit also warned the unau­tho­rised dis­clo­sure of sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion such as de­tails of search war­rants re­mained a con­cern.

As­sis­tant Chief Con­sta­ble Alan Speirs, from Po­lice Scot­land, said: “The over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of our of­fi­cers and staff con­sis­tently con­duct them­selves in ac­cor­dance with our high stan­dards.

“Any breaches of trust can have a dev­as­tat­ing im­pact on the pub­lic, there­fore we do ev­ery­thing we can to en­sure that the whole ser­vice per­forms to the level of pro­fes­sional be­hav­iour our com­mu­ni­ties ex­pect .”

He added: “Our Pro­fes­sional Stan­dards Depart­ment as­sesses po­ten­tial risks to mit­i­gate ef­fec­tively against them.”

“The pub­lic de­serve the fullest pro­tec­tion from preda­tory sex­ual be­hav­iour, what­ever its source”

JOHN FIN­NIE

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