A recent Freedom of Information Act request has revealed that in the last five years, more than 800 police officers and staff have been accused of domestic abuse. Of those, only 43 have been prosecuted, representing less than 5% of the total allegations received. A similar request in May 2019 found 700 domestic abuse allegations, of which only 3.9% ended in a conviction. Unsurprisingly, nothing has been done by police forces in the time since to control the epidemic of violence committed by their officers.
This is not the first time that police violence against women has been brought to the forefront of public consciousness in recent months. In April, it was revealed that the Metropolitan Police was investigating allegations that a serving officer raped two female colleagues. The officer was neither charged nor suspended and his misconduct hearing has been listed more than three years after the allegations were reported.
In addition to this, the recent “SpyCops” scandal revealed that over a 30 year period, undercover police officers infiltrated various left wing groups and trade unions in order to gather information against them and prevent these groups from damaging the interests of British capital. Many of these undercover officers began intimate relationships with activists, with some even having children with their victims under false pretences. Not only have the perpetrators not been punished, but last year the government even explicitly legalised such abuse. Keir Starmer ordered Labour MPs to abstain on the vote.
The kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by police officer Wayne Couzens, which provoked an outpouring of rage from women, workers, students and youth, is a further example of horrific violence committed by a serving officer. A peaceful vigil held to mourn Sarah was brutally attacked by the Met, unarmed women were viciously assaulted and arrested, demonstrating clearly the contempt that police officers harbour against normal people daring to stand up to one of their own.
Offending officers are skilful at covering their tracks, as they understand how to exploit the criminal justice system and cover up evidence. They know how to clean crime scenes and where to target injuries so they are undetectable. In addition, police forces are generally unwilling to investigate and punish their colleagues for their crimes, choosing to believe the accused over the accuser.
The incidents discussed above are not examples of “bad apples” within the police force, as is often argued by the representatives of the capitalist state and their propaganda mouthpieces in the media. The entire system is rotten, the role of police forces within society isolates officers, brutalising them and leading them to view ordinary members of the public as criminals or worse. The police were created as the element of the capitalist state sanctioned to use violence against the population in order to protect the interests of the ruling class and their property. This means officers cannot be punished for violent behaviour, except in the most extreme circumstances, because it is their fundamental role within society, their reason to exist. This means that the police cannot be reformed, the workers’ movement needs to take up the cause of victims of violence, whilst being prepared to defend itself and, ultimately, to fight for the abolishment of the police and its replacement with democratically controlled workers’ militias.