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A Club Of Toxic Male Hegemony: Another Police Officer Arrested On Suspicion Of Sexual Assault
What’s just happened?
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) released a statement last week stating that a serving police officer was suspended from his role after being arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. His arrest is in connection with an investigation into misconduct in the workplace. [] A spokesperson from the GMP stated: "we can confirm we have received reports of misconduct in the workplace against a serving GMP officer, who has been suspended following these allegations”. [] The misconduct allegations are being investigated by GMP's Professional Standards Branch. []
What does this mean?
Numerous reports published over recent decades including one compiled by the Serious Organised Crime Agency, have shown a sharp increase in the number of police officers abusing their powers from distributing illegal substances to committing sexual abuse and assault on suspects, witnesses, and victims. [] A report published by the Independent Police Complaints Commission in 2012 stated that the abuse of police powers for “purposes of sexual exploitation, or even violence, is something that fundamentally betrays the trust that communities and individuals place in the police”. []
There is a long and ever-growing line of reports of male police officers abusing their power and role to protect to abuse and assault women for their own “sexual gratification”. Even over the past few weeks, multiple officers have been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault, including a retired officer who has been charged with sexually assaulting another officer after an “investigation into claims of a toxic “boys’ club” culture at a police station”, another officer, Farooq Ahmed was arrested after he admitted to assaulting a young girl aged under 13 and creating an “indecent photograph of a child between April 2016 and April 2018”. [][] Ben Lister, a West Yorkshire police sergeant was arrested on charges of rape and sexual assault last month after “raping and sexually assaulting a woman in 2016”. [] [] In addition, the London Metropolitan Police Officer Wayne Couzens, who was charged for the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard earlier in March 2021. []
However, this clear abuse of power and blatant misogyny also targets female police officers. Sue Fish, a former police chief constable has recently spoken out about being sexually assaulted by two senior colleagues after years of silence for fears of not being believed. In a recent statement Ms Fish noted, "if we want women, as half our population, to have confidence in their police service, the police service needs to listen and to respond accordingly." []
In March 2020, The Centre for Women's Justice (CWJ) submitted a police super-complaint concerning extreme failures in addressing police perpetrated sexual and domestic abuse. The complaint stated that what happened to Ms Fish was “part of a wider picture of complaints by female officers against male officers”. [] A solicitor at the CWJ, Nogah Ofer stated "we've had a lot of reports by female police officers who have reported domestic abuse and sometimes also sexual offences by other officers, and they weren't dealt with properly". [] She added that a lot of the male officers are “more senior than the women we've been in contact with and might be quite highly regarded within the force” making it even more difficult for victims’ voices to be heard and taken seriously, as "victims just feel totally let down." []
How does this impact the legal sector?
Police forces across the UK should be institutions geared to help and protect all members of the public, and not as many reports and testimonies of victims have shown, a hegemonic club of men who use their position to belittle, assault, and violate women. Ultimately, abusers who work in the police force are more often than not being protected instead of being brought to justice simply because of their positions. The CWJ report, which is supported by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, said victims feel “doubly powerless” because of this. [] The report has called for changes which include victims being able to report their claims to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) rather than a police force, neighbouring police forces investigating such claims "should be the norm", officers guilty of abuse also being subject to misconduct procedures, and to restrict officers facing allegations from working with victims of domestic or sexual abuse. [] The voices of so many victims need to be heard, and action actually needs to be taken in light of victim testimonies and the CWJ report in order to prevent numerous other cases like this happening in the future. How can women feel protected by the law if the law is preying on women?
 ‘Greater Manchester Police officer held over workplace sexual assault’, (BBC News, April 9th, 2021)
 James Mutch, ‘Greater Manchester police officer arrested on suspicion of sexual assault’ (The Bolton News, April 9th, 2021)
 Neil Darbyshire, ‘The shocking truth about police corruption in Britain’, (Spectator, March 7th, 2015)
 ‘The abuse of police powers to perpetrate sexual violence’ (Police Conduct Gov., September, 2012)
 Marion Scott, ‘Police officer charged with sex assault on colleague after probe into toxic “boys’ club” at station’, (The Sunday Post, March 28th, 2021)
 Colin Drury, ‘Serving Greater Manchester Police officer arrested on suspicion of sexual assault’, (The Independent, April 9th, 2021)
 Ben Quinn, ‘Police officer to appear in court on charges of rape and sexual assault’, (The Guardian, March 15th, 2021)
 ‘Sergeant Ben Lister: West Yorkshire police officer appears in court charged with rape’, (ITV News, March 24th, 2021)
 Laura Smith-Spark, Kara Fox, Livvy Doherty and Schams Elwazer, ‘London police officer charged with murder of Sarah Everard’, (CNN, March 13th, 2021)
 ‘Former police chief tells of sexual assaults by colleagues’, (BBC News, April 8th, 2021)
 Philippa Goymer and Duncan Leatherdale, ‘Victims of police domestic abusers “are powerless”’, (BBC News, March 9th, 2021)