Police chiefs pledge to ‘root out’ sexual harassment
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) has promised to act over high levels of sexual harassment among staff after a new report revealed the scale of the issue.
A report by the trade union Unison, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of Surrey includes a survey of more than 1,700 crime scene investigators, clerks and other support staff in England, Scotland and Wales.
According to the survey, 4% of police staff said they have been pressurised into having sex with colleagues, while 8% said they have been told that sexual favours could result in preferential treatment.
One in five (19%) had received a sexually explicit email or text from a colleague.
More than a fifth of those surveyed (21%) have experienced inappropriate staring or leering and almost one in five (18%) have been touched in a way that made them feel uncomfortable
A similar percentage (18%) have seen colleagues make sexual gestures at work and 12% have witnessed/been the subject of unwelcome touching, kissing or hugging.
The LSE researchers also found that the more serious the harassment, the less likely it was that the affected staff member would report it.
Nearly two in five (39%) survey respondents said keeping quiet was easier than complaining, and more than a third (37%) said nothing would be done if they did complain.
According to a third (34%) of staff, the gossiping culture at work meant they did not believe the matter would be kept confidential, and 32% felt they would not be taken seriously.
“The UNISON and LSE research into sexual harassment among police staff is important. It shines a light on policing and finds some outdated and unacceptable behaviour that must be rooted out,” said the National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Professional Ethics, Chief Constable Julian Williams.
“This behaviour falls short of the high standards set in the Code of Ethics, which each member of the policing profession is expected to uphold.
“We invited UNISON and the LSE to speak to all chief constables about their findings in July. There is already good practice in forces with staff surveys to identify the level of unreported sexual harassment, training and campaigns but we need to do more.”
UNISON’s Assistant General Secretary Christina McAnea added: “Sexual harassment has no place in the modern workplace.
“Perpetrators must be confronted and dealt with immediately. Otherwise their behaviour could escalate from filthy jokes to more serious forms of sexual harassment.
“No member of police staff should feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated at work. Employees who witness or experience this abhorrent and unacceptable behaviour need reassurance that they will be listened to, and believed, and that effective action will be taken to end the harassment.”
Download a free ‘Bullying and harassment in the workplace’ employee factsheet, which discusses: What is bullying and harassment?, the impact of workplace bullying, the role of an employer, advice for combatting bullying, actions to take and provides some sources of help and information.
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