Bristol

Avon and Somerset Police doctor abuse probe closed

Dr Reg Bunting / Avon and Somerset HQ
Image caption Dr Reg Bunting was chief medical officer at Avon and Somerset Police between 1990 and 1997

An investigation into sexual assault allegations against a police force doctor has been closed due to a lack of evidence.

Dr Reginald Bunting worked for Avon and Somerset Police between 1972 and 2004. He died in 2013.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) looked into why he remained in post despite numerous allegations and investigations into his conduct but has now closed the case.

The police force has apologised.

The IPCC said "the passage of time, lack of paper records and inability of witnesses to accurately recall events" amounted to a lack of evidence.

'Frustrating'

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman said: "We would like to reiterate our apology to all the people affected, whether they raised concerns during the investigation or not, for failing to ensure acceptable medical conduct during their medical examination."

The IPCC's work focussed on how the allegations were handled by the force and whether there was a case to answer for any officer involved.

Most senior police officers and staff who were questioned by the IPCC said they could not recall any investigation or allegations about Dr Bunting's conduct.

IPCC commissioner Cindy Butts said: "The passage of time, the lack of paper records, which would have been disposed of in accordance with standard policy, and the inability of witnesses to accurately recall events all amount to a lack of evidence on which to assess the conduct of relevant officers.

"I appreciate this will be frustrating for all those affected by Dr Bunting's medical examinations particularly the officers who reported concerns."

'Brushed off'

Reports made in 1991 show a police sergeant carried out an investigation into the doctor's conduct after four prospective officers complained.

It was "resolved to the satisfaction of a senior manager". No evidence was found about the extent or outcome of the 1991 investigation.

Other reports made in 1994 and 1995 revealed a senior officer interviewed five women in 1995 and handed a report to her seniors. Again, she was found to have fulfilled her duties and was not responsible for any failure to take action.

Another concern was raised in 1998, where a female officer complained about the doctor to a personal training instructor but felt she was "brushed off". Again, no evidence was found to show whether this instructor acted on the information or not.

The police spokesman said the force had disposed of paper records in line with national guidelines at the time.

He added: "Avon and Somerset Police have a comprehensive procedure in place when officers or staff members make complaints to us.

"This includes making sure appropriate welfare provisions are in place and keeping the individual fully briefed on the status of any investigation.

"This case should also illustrate our commitment to bring in an independent investigation team should we think it necessary."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites