who checks the checkers?

Police issued with warning today over how they safeguard cadets from sexual abuse by officers after cases at GMP and Met raise serious concerns for IOPC. Police cadets are aged 13 to 18, and junior cadets are 10 to 13.

IOPC calls for safeguarding checks in Volunteer Police Cadet Programmes

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has urged police chiefs to check their force’s safeguarding arrangements around Volunteer Police Cadet programmes.

We have written to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) asking it to pass our advice to Chief Constables. This follows two investigations we started recently concerning police officers and their involvement with cadet programmes.

We are managing an investigation into a Greater Manchester Police (GMP) constable following complaints about his conduct in the cadet programme. The allegations can be broadly characterised as abuse of position for sexual purpose. The officer has been arrested and released on bail and more potential victims have been identified. We are also investigating the conduct of a police sergeant regarding their actions within the force’s cadet programme and how they dealt with the reports of alleged abuse of power for sexual purpose by the PC.

In the same week we received a referral from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) in relation to potential failures by three officers involved in the running of a cadet programme in the London region. We are independently investigating the officers for potentially failing to put in place immediate and appropriate safeguarding arrangements after being made aware that a volunteer cadet leader may have abused his position for sexual purpose. Additionally, we are also managing a separate misconduct investigation into the behaviour of an MPS officer regarding allegations he abused his position for sexual purpose at a London based cadet training camp. He is subject to a criminal investigation being led by the MPS.

The investigations are at an early stage, and involve serious and sensitive allegations. Therefore, we will not be offering further detail at this time.

IOPC Deputy Director General Ian Todd: “We are sufficiently concerned by these two referrals to ask all police forces in England and Wales to urgently review their own Volunteer Police Cadet programmes to ensure they have robust safeguarding procedures in place. Since we raised these concerns, the NPCC lead for safeguarding has confirmed that he has contacted all chief constables to make sure this is prioritised.

“The Volunteer Police Cadet programmes benefit thousands of young people and it’s not our intention to alarm them or their families; I must stress that the two investigations are unconnected and we have no information to indicate this may be a wider problem. However, some of the evidence emerging from these investigations indicates that there may have been opportunities to act sooner on the allegations that we are now investigating.

“The public would rightly expect the highest possible standards of safeguarding to apply in relation to police-operated programmes which engage with young, and sometimes vulnerable, members of the public and so chief constables should satisfy themselves that they have appropriate safeguarding arrangements in place. We also want to reassure the policing profession, not least for public confidence, that we are committed to tackling those who look to abuse their position of trust.

“Anyone who is concerned about their own experience in the cadets, or that of someone they know, can contact us or their local police force. All reports will be treated seriously and with discretion.”

NPCC Lead for Police Cadets, Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer: “Volunteer police cadet schemes offer young people the opportunity to learn new skills and build connections with their communities. Police forces are responsible for ensuring these schemes meet the highest possible standards of safeguarding, and all adult volunteers are checked and vetted by their local forces prior to being able to participate and support cadet unit activities.

“Following reports of abuse of position for sexual purpose in two police forces, I have written to all chief constables in England and Wales asking them to urgently review if any similar cases are being dealt with in their forces and personally ensure their local safeguarding arrangements are fully effective. A new national safeguarding framework is being developed to ensure all police forces consistently meet the highest standards of safeguarding. We will act on any learning from these investigations and are working to share the new framework in early 2019.

“No young person involved in the police cadets should be subject to abuse of any kind and I urge anyone who has been, or anyone with concerns or information, to report it.”

If you, or someone you know, have experienced inappropriate behaviour within a Volunteer Police Cadet Programme you can contact the IOPC on 0300 020 0096 or cadets@policeconduct.gov.uk.

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