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British police plagued by high levels of sexual harassment: Study

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo shows a female British police officer.

A new study has shown that police staff in the United Kingdom have been subject to widespread cases of sexual harassment by colleagues.

The study published Wednesday by the London School of Economics and UNISON, the second largest trade union in the UK, revealed incidents of inappropriate touching, leering and pressuring colleagues to have sex among staff at British police departments.

Unison said its research among police staff, including constables, community support officers, crime scene investigators, clerks and detention officers, found high levels of sexual harassment.

The study found that one in 25 officers had been pressured to have sex with a colleague, while one in 12 was told sexual favors could result in preferential treatment.

The research, which surveyed almost 1,800 police staff in England, Wales and Scotland, also showed that nearly half of the country's police force had an experience of hearing sexual jokes, while one in five had received a sexually explicit email or text from a colleague.

A third of the respondents to the study said they had suffered from intrusive questioning about their private lives.

About one in five said colleagues had touched them in an uncomfortable way and one in 10 said a colleague had asked them for a date even after they showed no interest.

Police chiefs said they would step up efforts to tackle the issue.

Julian Williams, chief constable of Gwent police and the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for professional ethics, said police would show a strong response to serious cases of sexual harassment.

“This behavior falls short of the high standards set in the code of ethics, which each member of the policing profession is expected to uphold ... Some of the behavior described is predatory and requires the strongest response from police with individuals removed from the service,” said Williams.

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