A landmark complaint brought by a women's advocacy group has forced Surrey Police to admit its failure to act correctly after learning that staff members were committing domestic abuse.

This morning (Thursday, December 10), Surrey Police confirmed that it was one of 15 forces implicated in a "super-complaint" filed by the Centre for Women's Justice (CWJ) in March of this year.

The complaint underlined "systemic failures women are experiencing when reporting domestic abuse perpetrated by police officers and others employed by the police."

Fifteen different police forces including Surrey Police are implicated in the report, which cites 19 cases in total.

The case was brought after work from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and reporter Alexandra Heal, who won a national press award for the report, alongside the CWJ.

They spoke with women from Surrey and across the UK who said they "felt their abusive police officer partners had used their professional positions to further intimidate and harass them".

On Thursday, Surrey Police conceded some of the findings of the super complaint and acknowledged their failures.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Fiona Macpherson said: "This complaint led us to immediately undertake work to understand the realities of the themes raised within the super complaint, and how those themes were approached in our own force.

"We know that we have had officers and police staff who perpetrate abuse and violence against their partners and family members and we know that we have not always responded in the right way."

Macpherson added that Surrey Police were "committed to bringing this issue to light and to ensuring that any member of Surrey Police - officers or staff - know that this behaviour has no place within our force, and that we will do all we can to uncover such wrongdoing."

"We also want survivors to know that Surrey Police is committed to ensuring that they will be listened to and supported, and that the additional considerations of the workplace element will be recognised and responded to," she said.

The CWJ complaint highlighted 11 different forms of malpractice relating to police force staff involved in abuse, and Surrey Police stressed that "not all" forms applied to it specifically.

Nonetheless its implication in the super complaint is damning on the county police force.

The summary of the complaint says: "At the heart of the concerns is lack of integrity, of officers manipulating the system and acting in bad faith in a variety of ways...

"A distinctive aspect of these cases is that the partners of such men feel doubly powerless.

"They experience the powerlessness that most domestic abuse victims experience, but in addition their abuser is part of the system intended to protect them.

"As a result, they feel a deep lack of confidence in the criminal justice system."

Michelle Blunsom, CEO of East Surrey Domestic Abuse Services, has been working with Surrey Police after the report surfaced earlier this year.

"All forces including Surrey Police have work to do to make this a reality.

"We know that the very nature of domestic abuse means that it often goes on behind closed doors and that perpetrators often have a public and private face...

"We welcome Surrey Police’s proactive approach in tackling this complex and difficult issue and we will continue to work with them to ensure that the lived experiences of those affected by the issues raised in the Super-complaint are heard."

To read the CWJ super-complaint in full, click here.

To hear from domestic abuse survivors and journalists involved to the complaint, click here.

According to the UK's National Domestic Abuse Helpline

  • 1 woman in 4 will experience domestic abuse over the course of her lifetime.
  • Every 30 seconds the police receive a call for help relating to domestic abuse.
  • On average, 240 women call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline every single day.