Assault charges made against police officers

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Dear Cleveland Police,

I am writing to you under the Freedom of Information Act (2000) to ask that you please disclose details of sexual assault, harassment, and misconduct charges brought against members of the police force that falls under your remit, both internally and externally, year by year from 2017-2021. Specifically:

1) How many accusations were made against serving officers

2) How many of these allegations were upheld

3) How many of these upheld charges resulted in disciplinary action, and what actions were they

Yours faithfully,

Max Colbert,
The Citizens.

Freedom of Information, Cleveland Police

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Freedom of Information, Cleveland Police

Enquiry Ref: 13127/2021

I acknowledge receipt of your request for information received by this office on 27th July 2021.

As set out by the Freedom of Information Act it will be our aim to respond to your request within 20 working days that is by 25th August 2021. In some cases, however, we may be unable to achieve this deadline and would hope to contact you should this be the case.

Although every effort will be made to ensure a response is provided within statutory deadlines, due to current circumstances delays may be unavoidable. We apologise for any inconvenience and will endeavour to process your request as quickly as is practicable.

Please note the ‘working day’ is defined as any day other than a Saturday, a Sunday, or a day which is a bank holiday in any part of the United Kingdom. The first reckonable day is the first working day after receipt.

If you have any questions regarding your request please contact this office.

Yours sincerely,

Information Rights Clerk
Directorate of Standards and Ethics
Cleveland Community Safety Hub | 1 Cliffland Way | Hemlington | TS8 9GL
Email: [Cleveland Police request email]
 
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Freedom of Information, Cleveland Police

1 Attachment

Enquiry Ref: 13127/2021

I write in connection with your request for information dated 26th July 2021 and received by this office on 27th July 2021. Below are the questions raised in your request and our response?
I am writing to you under the Freedom of Information Act (2000) to ask that you please disclose details of sexual assault, harassment, and misconduct charges brought against members of the police force that falls under your remit, both internally and externally, year by year from 2017-2021. Specifically:
1) How many accusations were made against serving officers
2) How many of these allegations were upheld
3) How many of these upheld charges resulted in disciplinary action, and what actions were
a) We have made enquiries with our Standards and Ethics department and have attached a document that contains all of the information they were able to retrieve based on a free text search for 'Sexual', 'exploit', child abuse’ and then reading through the allegation summaries.

In relation to any other information Cleveland Police would rely on the following:

Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) places two duties on public authorities. Unless exemptions apply, the first duty at Sec1 (1) (a) is to confirm or deny whether the information specified in a request is held. The second duty at Sec1 (1) (b) is to disclose information that has been confirmed as being held. Where exemptions are relied upon s17 of FOIA requires that we provide the applicant with a notice which: a) states that fact b) specifies the exemption(s) in question and c) states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.
Section 31(1)(g) (2)(b) Law Enforcement
Section 40(2) Personal Information

Section 31 is a prejudice based and qualified exemption, which requires the Harm in disclosure to be identified and additionally requires a public interest test to be conducted.

Section 40 is an absolute exemption, which means that the legislators have identified that harm would be caused by any release. In addition there is no requirement to consider the public interest test.

Factors favouring disclosure for Section 31
The Police Service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime and protecting the communities we serve and there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and use of Public Funds especially where an investigation is high profile and concerning the organisation that is charged with upholding these principles. The release of such information would provide further and accurate information in relation to recent public debate.

Factors favouring non-disclosure for Section 31
The Cleveland Police Service is committed to demonstrating proportionality and accountability to the appropriate authorities. However, if the Cleveland Police Service were to either confirm or deny that any other information is held; other law enforcement may either be compromised or it may significantly weaken any on-going investigations and any future investigations.

Under subsection 2 of Section 40 of The Freedom of Information Act, information is exempt information if it constitutes personal information of which the applicant is not the data subject. In order to be considered exempt personal information, the information must satisfy one of two conditions. It must either be information which would be exempt from disclosure to the data subject under the provisions of the Data Protection Act (General Data Protection Regulation) 2018, or disclosure of the information would contravene any of the Data Protection Principles or cause damage or distress to the data subject.

On this occasion the information requested is clearly personal information and would contravene the first principle of the Data protection Act 2018 - lawfulness, fairness and transparency, what are the likely expectations of the data subjects, in that would they expect the Cleveland Police to release personal details to the world, since release of information under The Freedom of Information Act 2000, is release to the world at large and not just to the individual applicant and as such I believe to do so would amount to unfair processing and hence therefore is exempt under Section 40(2)(a).

Section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is a class based and absolute exemption. This indicates that the legislators when writing this piece of legislation considered that the release of this type of information would cause harm to either the authority or the individuals involved.

Disclosure, at this moment in time, it is our opinion that for these issues the balance test for confirmation or denial is not made out.
No inference can be taken from this refusal that any other information requested does or does not exist.

Cleveland Police would like to provide you with additional information on the wider work of the Directorate of Standards and Ethics on preventing, identifying and responding to issues of misconduct, gross misconduct and criminal behaviour by those working for the Force. This work is underpinned by national best practice and guidance.
Cleveland Police expects all police officers and staff to work to the Code of Ethics and Standard of Professional Behaviour, whilst upholding the Force values and behaviours.

Prevention
One of the integral components of this work, is ensuring that Cleveland Police recruits the right people, and the necessary checks take place during the vetting stages of recruitment. Cleveland Police establishes clear boundaries during recruitment, training and the posting of staff to minimise any risk.
This includes and is not limited to:
• Ensuring all officers, staff and volunteers are vetted to the appropriate level and that there are enhanced vetting procedures for designated posts.
• Re-vetting taking place within set timescales.
• Those recruited into Cleveland Police understand and demonstrate the principles of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Behaviour.
• Publicising the outcome of misconduct cases involving abuse of position where appropriate.
• Recruiting Counter Corruption & Directorate of Standards and Ethics Prevent officers to raise awareness of signs of abuse of position, misconduct and increased reporting opportunities.

Intelligence
Cleveland Police has intelligence mechanisms to support counter corruption work. Some of these intelligence avenues are sensitive and confidential and can’t be shared to protect the integrity of the approaches.
Some of the work includes, but is not limited to:
• Break the Silence – a confidential reporting system for the Cleveland Police workforce, underpinned by an awareness raising campaign and an app placed on Force mobile devices. The systems allows people to upload supporting photography or documents and is 100% confidential.
• Briefing stakeholders on abuse of position by police officers and staff and signs to look out for.
• Auditing capability and monitoring technology.
• A People Intelligence Board (PIB) in which information is discussed to join the dots and connect any ‘red flags’.

Engagement
We seek to maintain confidence in the legitimacy of the service by engaging others internally and externally.
This includes, but is not limited to:
• Working with national partners to identify best practice on ethical behaviours, and the counter corruption arena.
• Seek to explore new technological advancements in auditing and monitoring.
• Engaging with partner agencies, and the third sector, to raise awareness of abuse of position, signs, and to encourage the reporting of concerns.
• Providing opportunities for the public to report concerns about the behaviour of individuals.
• Working with the IOPC to ensure lessons are learned from investigations.

Enforcement
We will ensure the effective reporting, recording referral and investigation of allegations of unethical behaviour, misconduct and gross misconduct.
This includes, but is not limited to:
• The Counter Corruption Unit refer abuse of position for sexual purpose cases to the IOPC as serious corruption.
• Cleveland Police will use legislation around fast-track misconduct hearings for appropriate cases.
• Ongoing training of the Counter Corruption Unit to ensure the team has the necessary skills and specialist capabilities to undertake effective investigations.

The Cleveland Police response to your request is unique and it should be noted that Police Forces do not use generic systems or identical procedures to capture and record data therefore responses from Cleveland Police should not be used as a comparison with any other force response you receive.

If you are not satisfied with this response or any actions taken in dealing with your request you have the right to request an independent internal review of your case under our review procedure. The APP College of Policing guidance states that a request for internal review should be made within 20 working days of the date on this response or 40 working days if extenuating circumstances to account for the delay can be evidenced.

We have made every effort to ensure a response was provided within statutory deadlines, however due to current circumstances delays have been unavoidable. If your response was late we apologise for any inconvenience it may have caused and thank you for your patience. If we can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact this office.

Yours sincerely,

Ms E McGuigan
Freedom of Information Decision Maker
Directorate of Standards and Ethics
Cleveland Community Safety Hub | 1 Cliffland Way | Hemlington | TS8 9GL
E-mail: [email address]

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