Suffolk Police: Inquiry call over officer and staff misconduct

Police officer in Ipswich town centre Image copyright Suffolk Police
Image caption The report showed that 379 complaints were made against the force in 2013/14

Twenty three Suffolk police officers and civilian staff were sacked or quit over misconduct in the past two years.

A document released under the Freedom of Information Act shows officers left after being accused of sexual assault, domestic violence and benefit fraud.

The force has also launched a drive to tackle a 46% rise in the number of complaints since April 2013.

Tim Passmore, Suffolk's Police and Crime Commissioner, said he would ask the chief constable to investigate.

Image copyright Suffolk Police
Image caption The PCC Tim Passmore (right) said he would look at the figures with Chief Constable Douglas Paxton (left)

Mr Passmore said: "Officers who don't behave with the highest levels of integrity are letting themselves and the people of Suffolk down.

"The vast majority of officers are hard-working individuals who give fantastic service, but sadly a minority don't behave as you would expect and I will be asking the chief constable to look at these figures and will work with him to see what else we can do to reduce them.

"These people are letting down their colleagues who do their job properly, because this tarnishes the majority."

Police sackings or resignations 2012-2014

  • The death of Robert Edwards, a vulnerable man who fell unconscious in a police cell in Bury St Edmunds in 2011, prompted the resignation of a civilian detention officer
  • Officer dismissed in 2012 for breaching data protection rules, having an "inappropriate relationship" and criminal damage to a police vehicle
  • Gross misconduct sackings in 2013 followed misconduct hearings including one officer who made sexual comments to female students
  • An officer cautioned for two sexual assaults on a female colleague resigned before a misconduct hearing
  • One officer resigned after allegation of domestic violence against a partner. No criminal charges resulted
  • An officer resigned while being prosecuted for wrongly claiming benefits
  • An officer resigned after it was alleged they had stolen money collected for charity
  • Four people resigned over alleged breaches of the Data Protection Act
  • A Special Constable resigned following inappropriate comments made on Facebook
  • A Special Constable resigned after attempting to travel on a train without paying by identifying themselves as an officer

The force recorded a 46% rise in complaints, from 259 in 2012-13 to 379 in 2013-14.

One woman complained officers had forced their way into her property while she was on holiday, causing damage, and it turned out they had gone to the wrong address.

Another had a complaint upheld after they alleged they were unlawfully strip-searched.

Other upheld complaints related to the address of a witness being released prior to a court case "putting the victim and witness in fear".

A Complaint Reduction Strategy was introduced involving a number of training initiatives such as a podcast on integrity.

'Public confidence'

Suffolk Police said the force was still below the national average for complaints and the rise needed to be viewed "in context".

A Suffolk Police spokeswoman said: "We take all complaints extremely seriously and conduct thorough investigations while weighing up the nature of the alleged offence and the needs of the victim or complainant.

"It is now far easier for members of the public to engage with the complaints process in person, by phone, email or in writing.

"The increase in complaints and allegations may indicate greater public confidence in making complaints."

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