INCREASED vetting procedures and a new code of conduct are being demanded by the police watchdog after it emerged more than 50 officers have abused their position to sexually exploit members of the public over the past two years.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) yesterday published a report urging police forces to make the prevention, detection and investigation of officers abusing their powers for sexual exploitation a higher priority across the country.
The report found 54 cases of officers or staff trying to form sexual relationships with people who had approached them for help between April 2009 and March last year in England and Wales.
The cases include former Humberside PCSO Gary Hastings, who was jailed for 10 years in June for abusing two teenage boys over a period of two years and was branded by a judge as a “predatory paedophile”.
Jonathan White, who served with South Yorkshire Police for more than eight years and was a trusted firearms officer before he resigned in 2009, was jailed for 12 years in February for a series of sexual assaults on a girl that began when she was eight and ended when she was 10.
The cases studied by the watchdog also included one of a police officer who was accused of rape by a woman with mental health problems who had called for help because she felt suicidal.
Another officer was sacked after using the police national computer to carry out 176 unauthorised checks on women over three years.
Dame Anne Owers, the chairwoman of the IPCC, said: “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.
“It therefore has a serious impact on the public’s confidence in individual officers and the service in general.”