A descriptive study of police employees who abuse their position of trust for a sexual purpose or, for the purpose of pursuing an improper emotional relationship. Identifying measures to mitigate against and prevent offending

Research Institution / Organisation

Liverpool John Moores University

Principal Researcher

Detective Inspector Tim Evans

Level of Research


Project Start Date

January 2020

Research Context

Research has been undertaken to identify the existence of ‘professional perpetrators’ who abuse their position of trust to sexually offend against vulnerable persons, within policing and other professions.  Quantitative analysis of victim, offender and modus operandi demographic information has developed the understanding of offending characteristics, recommendations of which advocated the development of pre-employment vetting measures and, information technology to identify those who may present a higher risk of offending.

Through the analysis of ‘abuse of position’ cases, identified within the police service of England and Wales, this quantitative research aims to identify measures to mitigate against and prevent offending. 
The objectives of this study will be to:

  • Quantitatively analyse ‘subject’, ‘individual’ and ‘offence’ demographic information to identify the offending characteristics of those who abuse their position of trust for a sexual and / or emotional purpose.
  • Provide a descriptive narrative of learning recommendations arising from identified cases.
  • Conclude whether the findings validate and / or enhance upon previously identified research, making recommendations to enable police forces to consider implementing preventative measures, as applicable.

Research Methodology

​The police forces of England and Wales will be requested to supply demographic information appertaining to the ‘subject’ (including gender, age, rank, role, length of service and marital status), ‘individual’ (gender, age and any identified vulnerabilities) and ‘offence’ (summary of allegations, method of offending, criminal / disciplinary outcome). Where applicable, individual and organisational learning arising from identified cases will be sought from police forces and the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

The inclusion criterion is confined to ‘finalised’ cases meeting the NPCC (2017) definition of ‘abuse of position’, where a ‘case to answer’ determination’ had been made arising from either a public complaint or through the identification of misconduct against the sample of police officers (including Special Constables) or, police staff members. Parameters for the selected cases relates to the ten-year period between 1st April 2010 to 31st March 2020. Selection of finalised cases ensures that no ongoing criminal or disciplinary investigations are compromised, whilst maximising opportunities for data collection.

Variable data will be codified and quantitatively analysed using SPSS / Windows. Descriptive statistics will be used to present the data.

Interim reports and publications

​Not available

Date due for completion

September 2020
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