Herts Police has defended its investigations procedures after the number of sexual assault claims made against its officers was revealed.

Between 2016 and 2020 there were 27 complaints - 19 of which came from the public and five from police colleagues.

The source of three ongoing complaints was not given.

Campaigners for The End Violence Against Women Coalition claimed nationally few officers face "any meaningful consequences" for violence against women and girls.

But a Hertfordshire Constabulary spokesperson has insisted it requires the “highest levels of integrity” from officers and action is always taken when required.   

They said: “If claims are made against our officers, a thorough investigation will be carried out by an independent force irrespective of who the offender is.

Watford Observer:

“The Professional Standards Department (PSD) prioritises sexual offence allegations against police officers.

“PSD, working in conjunction with the IOPC, investigates officers where officer conduct has or is likely to have breached the standards of professional behaviour.”

The latest data emerged following a Freedom of Information request on the number of sexual assault complaints against serving Herts officers.

It comes amid increased scrutiny after serving officer Wayne Couzens murdered Sarah Everard.

The spokesperson said the “gross abuse of power” means it is only right that the whole police service be subjected to greater scrutiny.

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“His wicked actions have provoked feelings of great anger, sadness and shock among those working in policing,” they continued.

“He betrayed every single police officer and staff member who have dedicated their working lives to preventing crime and keeping people safe.

“We recognise damage he will have caused to communities’ confidence in policing, and we are certain that the service nationally will learn from what has happened.”

They added Couzens in no way reflects policing generally and Herts Police remains “absolutely committed” to protecting women and girls from violence and abuse.