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Complaints of sexism and/or misogyny

Date of request: 2 December 2022
Reference: 1361-22


  1. How many complaints has your Professional Standards team received of officers and staff reported for sexism against women and/or misogyny, from January 2018 to December 2022?
  2. How many of these reports were made by police officers and staff?
  3. How many of these cases resulted in disciplinary action?


During the required time frame, our Professional Standards Department (PSD) undertook multiple process changes to ensure capturing of sexism/misogynistic behaviour towards women (VAWG) were captured appropriately. Therefore, for the periods listed below, data has been captured accordingly as per the processes advised.

01/01/2018 – 31/01/2020

Complaints were recorded under the Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2012. The relevant (IOPC) complaint categories identified would have been:

A (Serious non-sexual assault), B (Sexual assault), F (Discriminatory Behaviour) and Y (Other Sexual Conduct). These categories would include any behaviour where there has been alleged sexism or misogyny towards women, however they would also include reports of sexism towards men.

01/02/2020 – 31/12/2020

Complaints from 01/02/2020 are recorded under the Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2020. The (IOPC) complaint categories differ to the 2012 Regulations, and complaints relevant to this topic would have been captured under:

F8 (Discriminatory Behaviour – Sex), G2 (Abuse of Position for the purpose of pursuing an inappropriate emotional relationship), J1 (Sexual Assault), J2 (Sexual Harassment) and J3 (Other Sexual Conduct). As above, these categories would include reports of sexism towards men as well as women.

01/01/2021 – 05/12/2022 (Date FOI Received)

In early 2022, PSD reviewed all cases where there were potential concerns for VAWG. All cases from 2021 were updated to include new National Factors for VAWG:

Police Perpetrator, VAWG – Police Victim, and VAWG – dissatisfaction handling. Allegations of sexism and misogyny will be retrievable through these National Factors.

It should be noted from the above that for the periods from 01/01/2018 to 31/12/2020, information is held in relation to sexism generally, as perpetrated against men or women. To identify for this period the number of complaints of officers and staff reported for sexism against women and/or misogyny would require a manual review of all identified reports. The process of reviewing to identify the gender of the person towards whom the sexist behaviour was directed is made more complicated by the fact that the complainant in each case may not be the victim. With 70 reports identified, it is estimated that in addition to the time already taken to identify and collate data in relation to this request, it would take in excess of 18 hours to complete this process.

Section 12 of the Act makes provision for public authorities to refuse requests for information where the cost of dealing with them would exceed the appropriate limit, which for police authorities is set at £450 or 18 staff hours. This represents the estimated cost of one person spending 2.5 working days in determining whether the department holds the information, and locating, retrieving and extracting it.

This letter represents a partial Refusal Notice under the Act.

The figures identified for the categories of complaint held, as described above, have been provided below for each year requested:


2018: 21*

2019: 23*

2020: 26*

2021: 186

2022: 106

Total: 362

*including complaints of sexism against men or women, as explained above.

You will note a significant increase in figures from 2021 (rising from 20’s to 100’s in figures), which highlights PSD’s described process changes and improvements in data quality made over this time.


0 – Police employees are ineligible to make complaints against serving officers employed under the direction and control of the same Chief Constable.


From the 362 complaints, 6 complaints resulted in disciplinary action for the subject.

For additional context in relation to question 3, it should be noted that this information relates only to Complaints made by the public. It does not include internal conduct investigations, which tend to result in disciplinary action more often than Complaints. It also does not include complaints that lead to learning and reflective practice, as these do not meet the threshold considered to be disciplinary action. For the purposes of this response, outcomes of Written Warning and above are considered to constitute disciplinary action.

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