WITH four scandals in the space of a month, Essex Police leaves 2013 under something of a cloud, but Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston is optimistic for 2014.
The Tory politician, who was elected on a 12.8 per cent turnout earlier this year, said he was disappointed and concerned about the number of allegations made and investigations launched against officers.
However, the number is relatively small, he said, when compared to all officers and he was working with the force to make such cases less likely.
Mr Alston said: “I’d say it was probably disappointing to see quite so many allegations.
“Some of those were of concern, one or two of deep concern.
“But there are more than 5,000 people working for Essex Police and, overall, those being investigated was a relatively small number, and I’m pleased to see how seriously the force has been dealing with it.”
Last month Mr Alston published the details of all 852 complaints made against Essex Police employees over the past year – including officers being investigated for rape, perverting the course of justice and possessing indecent images of children.
Since the beginning of November, it has been revealed a Southend officer was dismissed for gross misconduct, a Benfleet officer was jailed for failing to pass on a rape case to the CPS, a Rayleigh officer is facing criminal charges after a six-month investigation and a Southend PCSO is being investigated for looking up people’s details on the police database “for a laugh”.
Mr Alston said he did not think there was an institutional problem in the force, but added there were clearly problems getting through to some officers their power and authority and the professional limits of their role.
He said: “There have been a sufficient number of cases to give me concern that officers don’t always realise they are authority figures when they are dealing with vulnerable people.
“I’ve asked the head of the professional standards team what is being done to make officers more aware of the risks when they, as people in authority, are put into contact with weak and vulnerable people and it produced a really good discussion.
“I’ve always said I want victims to be at the heart of what we do and I’m confident we can get this right.”