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Claims against a police officer for sexual abuse

Released On 4th Apr 2022

Sexual abuse within the police

Figures show that allegations of sexual misconduct made against serving police officers across Britain are on the rise.  The police are now in the spotlight and when allegations of sexual abuse are made, they must be transparent and ensure their actions are beyond reproach. The police therefore have real difficulties in establishing public confidence, particularly from women, as these offences undermine the good work done by the vast majority of our police officers and staff.

Cases seem to be on the increase, or is it that public awareness has been raised by high-profile cases such as Sarah Everard and survivors of sexual abuse by a police officer now feel they have a voice?  Recently there have been numerous cases in the news. Last month, Darren Thorn, a police officer who served at Wiltshire Police, has been given a nine-month prison sentence for his inappropriate sexual relationship with a vulnerable woman. He met his victim of part of his duties and he accessed the police database to find her contact details, then making unauthorised contact with her. Thorn’s actions were clearly against the law.  His wrongdoings not only gave rise to a criminal conviction, but also enable his victim to bring a civil claim for compensation against the police who employed him. The legal principle of vicarious liability means that where a member of staff commits sexual offences as part of their role, this enables the victim to launch a claim against their perpetrators employer for compensation.   A claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority may also be possible resulting in damages being paid.

Wayne Couzens, Sarah Everard's murderer has now been charged with four counts of indecent exposure.  These offences took place just before Sarah's death. At the time, Couzens was a serving police officer within the Metropolitan police.  PC David Carrick, another Met police officer, has now been accused of sexual attacks by 11 women. He has pleaded not guilty having been charged with a total of 41 offences.  The offences include rape, coercive and controlling behaviour and sexual assault.  Again, if Carrick is convicted, it is likely these victims can launch civil claims against the police if those offences have been committed in the course of his employment.  Even if Carrick escapes conviction, a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority may be possible, together with a civil claim as the civil burden of proof, `on the balance of probabilities', applies to these civil claims processes.

As solicitors specialising in sexual abuse claims, we receive daily enquiries involving current and historic sex abuse.  In every case we are looking to recognise the challenges that these victims face and the barriers to reporting or engaging in the legal process. In cases involving the police, these challenges are much higher than in other areas of sexual abuse litigation. There is an inherent fear that the survivor will not be believed. He or she have to report the offence to the same police force who employed the officer, or staff member involved. The hurdle is therefore much higher than we see in other areas of sexual abuse. 

Our solicitors are experienced in dealing with claims involving offences committed by police officers and understand the difficulties involved. Our expertise can help support victims and help them navigate this difficult type of claim.  If you are a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a serving or former police officer, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist team on a confidential, no obligation free consultation on 01392 345333, or email us at enquiries@robsonshaw.uk.