Hundreds of British police officers have been accused of abusing their power to sexually abuse vulnerable victims of crime a watchdog report has revealed
The latest in a string of institutional abuse accusations was revealed by the royal Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in a damning study on Thursday.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she was shocked by how deep the issue was rooted within the British law enforcement.
HMIC’s initial findings identified more than 400 claims of abuse of authority for sexual gain over two years.
But HM Inspector Mike Cunningham said: “It is at least possible, probably likely, that the problem is more serious than the numbers that have been reported back to us.
“It’s the most serious form of corruption. It is an exploitation of power where the guardian becomes an abuser.
“What can be worse than a guardian abusing the trust and confidence of an abused person? There can be no greater violation of public trust.”
Data collected by the watchdog identified 436 reported allegations of abuse of authority for sexual gain received by forces in England and Wales in the two years to the end of March.
These allegations covered a total of 334 police personnel, comprising 306 officers, 20 PCSOs and eight police staff.
All but one constabulary had at least one case, while more than a third (39 per cent) of the allegations involved victims of domestic abuse.
Arrested suspects and people with drug or alcohol problems were also thought to be among those allegedly exploited.
While forces acknowledge the seriousness of the problem, some are still failing to recognise it as a serious form of corruption, the report warned.
It revealed that less than half (48 per cent) of the 436 reported allegations had been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
Figures also suggested there was an “apparent disconnect” between the numbers of alleged cases and sackings as a result.
HMIC said all forces should carry out a retrospective review of allegations and consider referrals to the IPCC.