Sexual misconduct outcomes
While the majority of police officers dedicate themselves to public service and keeping our communities safe, there have been too many incidents which have damaged the public’s trust and confidence in policing.
Avon and Somerset Police recognise that to repair the damage these incidents have undoubtedly caused, it must be open and transparent with the communities it serves and be clear about the decisive action taken when the conduct of its officers falls below the standards expected.
Sexual misconduct and abuse of position for sexual purpose are treated as serious corruption and the Counter Corruption Unit proactively monitors police systems to identify employees engaged in wrongful behaviour.
All reports of misconduct of any kind are fully investigated, and anyone found to have committed gross misconduct could be dismissed. In the event the misconduct is criminal they may also be prosecuted.
Outcomes of all officer misconduct hearings, the majority of which have been held in public, have been published proactively since 2017.
The data published on this page is all the finalised sexual misconduct complaint and conduct allegations received since 1 February 2020, when the Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2020 came into force.
The data details the individual sexual misconduct complaints and conduct allegations recorded. Individual officers could be subject to more than one complaint or conduct allegation. The data will be updated every six months.
Key terms and headings explained
Key terms and headings used in the sexual misconduct outcomes PDF are listed below.
Year, rank and gender
The year the complaint or conduct matter was recorded by the Professional Standards Department (PSD).
The year the complaint or conduct matter was finalised.
The rank of the officer the complaint or conduct matter related to.
The gender of the officer the complaint or conduct matter related to.
Misconduct category refers to which Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) allegation category relating to sexual misconduct the complaint or conduct matter has been recorded as.
This can be:
- Abuse of position for sexual purpose – this category refers to any relationship, communication, action, or gratification of a sexual nature with a member of the public, including via social media. It is not necessary for the pursued sexual purpose to have been achieved.
- Abuse of position for the purpose of pursuing an inappropriate emotional relationship – this category refers to any emotional or personal relationship between a person serving with the police and a member of the public, including via social media, which a reasonable person would consider to be a serious breach of appropriate professional boundaries. It is not necessary for the pursued improper emotional relationship to have been achieved.
- Sexual conduct – this category relates to sexual matters but does not relate to abuse of position for sexual purpose.
There are three sub-categories of sexual conduct:
- Sexual assault – ranging from allegations of inappropriate touching during arrest or while a search of the person is carried out, any assault surrounding or involving circumstances of indecency, to rape.
- Sexual harassment – allegations of unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature; including sexual comments, propositions, leering and sexual posts on social media.
- Other sexual conduct – allegations of sexual behaviour that does not amount to sexual assault or sexual harassment.
Complaint or conduct
A complaint is any expression of dissatisfaction with a police force that is expressed by or on behalf of a member of the public.
A conduct matter is any matter which is not and has not been the subject of a complaint, where there is an indication that a person serving with the police may have committed a criminal offence or behaved in a manner which would justify disciplinary proceedings.
Suspended or restricted duties
Suspended or restricted duties refers to whether the officer was suspended following the recording of the complaint or conduct matter. It also refers to whether the officer was placed on restricted duties while an investigation was carried out.
Restrictions can include:
- restricting access to police premises
- contact with members of public
- being involved in handling evidential material.
Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) referrals and decisions
Whether the complaint or conduct matter has been referred to the IOPC.
The IOPC’s decision on whether the complaint or conduct matter requires an investigation, and if so, the type of investigation.
There are three different types of investigation:
- Independent – the IOPC investigates the matter using its own investigators.
- Directed – the IOPC directs and controls the investigation using police resources.
- Local – the Professional Standards Department investigates, with no involvement from the IOPC.
This refers to whether the complaint or conduct matter has resulted in disciplinary proceedings.
There are three main types of disciplinary proceedings:
- Gross misconduct hearings – held in front of a panel chaired by an independent legally qualified chair.
- Accelerated gross misconduct – hearings chaired by a Chief Constable.
- Misconduct meetings – held in front of Chief Inspector or a member of police staff of equivalent rank.
Professional Standards Department (PSD) outcome
Each allegation outcome will be followed by the subsequent action taken and will be set out like this:
- Case to answer
- Referral to proceedings
No further action required
No further action was taken after a complaint was recorded. This could be because the complainant did not engage in the process so the complaint could not be properly investigated.
No action was taken against the officer subject to the complaint/ conduct matter.
The service provided was acceptable
The complaint or conduct matter was investigated and the officer subject to it was found to have provided an acceptable level of service.
Case to answer
The complaint or conduct matter was investigated and there was evidence to support the allegations being made.
Referral to proceedings
The severity of the allegations was such that if proven, disciplinary action such as a written warning or dismissal was likely and therefore the officer was subject to a misconduct meeting or hearing.
The outcome of a misconduct hearing was that the officer was dismissed.
No case to answer
This is essentially the same as the service provided was acceptable.
Refer to AA for RPRP
Refer to the Appropriate Authority (AA) for Reflective Practice Review Process (RPRP). This is when the outcome of the misconduct meeting/hearing was that the officer required reflective practice.
The AA is the Deputy Chief Constable but the authority is often delegated to senior officers within the Professional Standards Department.
Additional training, guidance or instruction was provided to an officer to improve their performance going forward.
This is similar to ‘Refer to AA for RPRP’ (above) but does not always follow a misconduct/ meeting hearing.
Learning from reflection
Additional training, guidance or instruction was recommended to the officer’s line manager.
It is essentially the same as reflective practice but is not as formal and is recorded on the officer’s Individual Performance Review and managed by their line manager rather than the Professional Standards Department.
Would have been dismissed
The outcome of the misconduct hearing was that the officer would have been dismissed if they had not already retired or resigned before the findings of the hearing.
The allegations were withdrawn by the complainant after the allegations were recorded.
Not determined if the service acceptable
The allegation could neither be proved or disproved.
Whether the complaint or conduct matter was subject of a criminal investigation.
Whether any criminal justice sanctions were brought. This could include no further action being taken, out of court disposals such as a caution being issued, or criminal charges brought.
Criminal justice outcome
Whether an officer, having been charged with a criminal offence, was acquitted or convicted and what sentence they received.
Additional information about the allegation and how it was dealt with.