Convictions for more than half of police officers who faced criminal probes

More than half of police officers who faced criminal investigations were convicted, annual figures show.

There were 152 criminal probes into police in the year to March 2020, according to the latest available Home Office data for England and Wales.

Of these, 115 investigated officers and 37 looked into staff, compared to 119 and 17 respectively for the previous annual period.

Some 68 officers either admitted their crimes or were found guilty (59%), 32 were acquitted, one was cautioned and prosecutions were dropped against 14.

While 26 staff were convicted (70%), five were cleared, one was cautioned and the proceedings were discontinued or no evidence was offered against a further five.

The provisional statistics also show misconduct proceedings against police officers or staff were brought in 1,385 cases during the period, out of 2,242 complaints which were considered to involve misconduct or gross misconduct (62%).

Where there is a case to answer for allegations of gross misconduct or when an officer has been given a final written warning, a disciplinary hearing takes place – usually in public.

In the 12-month period, 420 took place, 263 of which involved officers while the remaining were for staff. Officers were sacked in 35% of the hearings while 20% resulted in a final written warning. For staff, 36% of hearings resulted in dismissal and 41% in a final written warning.

The thresholds on criminal and misconduct investigations differ.

Criminal investigations rely on the burden of proof beyond all reasonable doubt, while misconduct probes reflect civil proceedings and consider the balance of probabilities.

This means prosecutions which do not result in a conviction or do not meet the threshold for criminal charges could still lead to misconduct proceedings and the accused could be sacked if the allegations are proven.

Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on homicide in England and Wales overall show that over a three-year period, the “vast majority” of convicted suspects were men (1,023; 93%).

Four in 10 were aged between 16 and 24 (40%), while 25% were 25-34 and 16% were 35 to 44-year-olds, according to the data for March 2018 to March 2020.

Around two-thirds (67%) of suspects convicted of homicide were identified as white.

The analysis said there were “large differences” in the way men and women were killed and their relationship with the attacker.

The figures suggest female victims were more commonly killed by a partner, ex-partner, or relative. But the suspected killer was more commonly a friend or acquaintance, or a stranger when the victim was a man, the ONS said.

  • 93% of suspects convicted of homicide were men
  • 40% were aged between 16 and 24
  • 67% were identified as white

In the year to March 2020, the number of male victims rose by 20% (to 506), while the number of female victims fell by 16% (to 188).

Overall, there were 695 victims of homicide during the period, including the bodies of the 39 Vietnamese people found in a lorry in Essex in October 2019.

This is 47 (7%) more than the previous year. Excluding that incident, homicides rose by 1% overall.

The most common method of killing was sharp instruments, including knives.

The second most common method was kicking or hitting, and most victims were male.

For female victims, strangulation was the second most common method.

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