National Strategy on abuse of position for a sexual purpose

Why is it necessary?

  • The public expect and deserve to have trust and confidence in the police. When police officers and staff abuse their position for a sexual purpose, particularly in respect of vulnerable members of the public, such behaviour therefore represents a fundamental betrayal of the public and the values for which the police service stands.
  • Abuse of position is any behaviour by a police officer or a police staff member whether on or off duty, that takes advantage of their position as a member of the police service to misuse their position, authority or powers in order to pursue a sexual or improper emotional relationship with any member of the public.
  • This includes committing a sexual act, initiating sexual contact with or responding to any perceived sexually motivated behaviour from another person or entering into any communication that could be perceived as sexually motivated or lewd.


What should members of the public look out for?

Supervisors at West Yorkshire Police have a responsibility to ensure their staff are working in line with the Code of Ethics, the Standards of Professional Behaviour and our organisational values. When officers and staff abuse their position this undermines public confidence.

Possible warning signs to look out for are:

  • The perception of an officer as a ‘knight in shining armour.’
  • A victim or witness has a favourite officer or frequently requests a certain officer.
  • Unexpected visits/ welfare checks by an officer at all times of the day.
  • Domestic abuse investigation is steered towards low level/ quick resolution
  • Physical contact
  • Flirtatious behaviour
  • Nicknames or pet names
  • Unnecessary communication ie through social media/ phone/email
  • Kisses on the end of messages or other sexualised comments
  • Contact or visits off duty
  • Presents or gifts
  • Continued contact after an incident or case is concluded
  • Victim or witness will often not see that there is anything wrong with the relationship and how it started

People who are particularly vulnerable to such abuse include those suffering mental illness, those with learning difficulties, juveniles, those who are drug or alcohol dependent and victims of abuse. It should however be stressed that police officers and staff should not behave in this way to any person who they meet during the course of their work or duties.


What should you do if you think you or someone you know is affected?

  • Send an email to [email protected] - this will be looked at confidentially and dealt with by a small specialist team.
  • Ring the Confidential Line on 01924 292114.
  • Ring Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
  • Report the matter at a police station or use our website to make a complaint.
  • Report the behaviour directly to the IOPC (Independent Office of Police Conduct)
  • If there are issues with reporting, speak to someone who could make the report for you.


Page last reviewed March 2022