Women in police 'face sex attacks'

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A NEW report suggests that more than 800 policewomen have been subjected to sexual assaults by male colleagues.

The study, published in today's Police Review, found that 6 per cent of the 1,800 women officers who responded have been victims of assaults, ranging from groping to attempted rape and rape.

The study was carried out by Dr Jennifer Brown, research manager for Hampshire Police, and Dr Elizabeth Campbell, of Surrey University, and based on information from six forces. The findings have been sent to the Home Office. Assuming the sample to be representative of the national picture, the figures suggest that more than 800 women officers have been victims of assaults.

The findings also reveal that most of the victims were unhappy about the way their complaints had been handled.

Originally, the survey had generated 600 answers from women who said they had suffered from assaults. These were processed by researchers who revised the number to 53. Six respondents said assaults had recurred.

Asked about sexual harassment, women officers said 47 per cent came from policemen, 35 per cent from the public and 18 per cent from civilian workers in the police force.

Forty-eight per cent of the women surveyed said they had been pinched, stroked, or touched by male colleagues, while 92 per cent had been exposed to jokes of a sexual nature.

Senior police chiefs are believed to be taking the matter seriously, while stating that it would be unrealistic to expect the force to be free of sexual harassment which affects society as a whole.

A spokesman for the Home Office said new guidelines on grievance procedures within the police service would be published shortly and that this would 'help the situation'.