The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that Police failed adequately to respond to multiple allegations over a 15-year period that a Police Medical Officer sexually assaulted Police recruits.
In 2019, the Authority received two separate complaints about Police’s handling of concerns recruits raised about medical examinations conducted by a doctor, who between 1999 and 2016, was contracted as a Police Medical Officer to conduct routine medical examinations on recruits.
We undertook an independent investigation, focusing on establishing when Police staff became aware of the allegations and their response. It was not our role to investigate the lawfulness or appropriateness of the doctor’s actions.
We found that recruits had raised their concerns about the doctor’s medicals at least seven times between 2002 and 2014/15. Police had failed to act and continued to send recruits to the doctor. It was not until a formal complaint was made in June 2017 that Police launched a criminal investigation. That investigation concluded that there was insufficient evidence to charge the doctor. However, Police notified the Medical Council of the concerns raised.
Ultimately, in June 2022, the High Court found that there was insufficient evidence to support any adverse conclusions concerning the doctor by the Medical Council. We delayed the release of our public report until the conclusion of the High Court proceedings.
We found that the criminal investigation of the doctor conducted by Police in 2017 was of an acceptable standard. However, we also found Police had failed to investigate any of the concerns raised between 2002 and 2014/15. In addition, we reached the view that while the criminal investigators offered appropriate support to recruits during the criminal investigation, the member of Police Executive who knew about the allegations failed adequately to support the recruits throughout the criminal investigation and Medical Council process.
We also concluded that, once Police became aware of the extent of the allegations, they should have conducted a full investigation into their earlier failures to respond. By not doing so, Police failed to gather the information necessary to enable them to reach proper conclusions about how they had initially dealt with the recruits' concerns.
Judge Colin Doherty, who was Chair of the Authority at the time of this investigation, said:
“Police not only failed to investigate these serious allegations when they were first raised, but they also failed to meet their obligation as an employer to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their staff. It is unacceptable that Police continued to contract the doctor for medicals up until 2016 without investigating or even questioning the alleged conduct, when several recruits had raised concerns about his behaviour over a period of about 15 years.”