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Devon and Cornwall police allegedly protected officers accused of rape, assault and psychological torment – and ‘even promoted abusers into roles to tackle violence against women’


Devon and Cornwall police have been accused of protecting its officers over allegations of rape, assault and psychological torment. 

The force reportedly failed to investigate claims that staff subjected seven women to physical and mental abuse, with two of the abusers even promoted into roles to tackle violence against women, according to The Guardian

Devon and Cornwall Police is said to have known some of the alleged suspects and openly showed bias towards them, while other allegations include failing to gather evidence, failing to take statements or appointing officers to investigate the claims. 

One of the men also allegedly bragged to a women that he had been protected by the force after it ‘made things go away’. 

Devon and Cornwall Police has referred itself to the police watchdog following the allegations, which have been made against seven current and former male officers who reportedly deny any criminal wrongdoing. 

Devon and Cornwall police have been accused of protecting its officers over allegations of rape, assault and psychological torment. Pictured: Exeter Police Station, on Sidmouth Road

Devon and Cornwall police have been accused of protecting its officers over allegations of rape, assault and psychological torment. Pictured: Exeter Police Station, on Sidmouth Road

Devon and Cornwall Police is said to have known some of the alleged suspects and openly showed bias towards them. Pictured: A Devon and Cornwall Police Ford Transit van

Devon and Cornwall Police is said to have known some of the alleged suspects and openly showed bias towards them. Pictured: A Devon and Cornwall Police Ford Transit van

The seven women are now looking to sue the police force, with lawyers accusing Devon and Cornwall police of failing to take the allegations seriously. 

Paula Kressinger, 57, is one of the seven women taking legal action against the force, where she served for 30 years until 2016, and has waived her right to anonymity. 

Kressinger had been in a relationship with a retired police officer when he allegedly attacked her by placing her in a neck hold. 

She claims a neighbour witnessed the attack at their shared house and can support her account of what happened. 

Kressinger said: ‘When I was a police officer for 30 years, you go to a domestic incident, you listen to both sides and you deal with it appropriately. That is what I expected. I was completely dismissed. It was clear they knew him.’

She said she has been left with post-traumatic stress disorder following the attack which was ‘exacerbated by the lack of police action’.

Her claim was only taken seriously by one officer after years of ‘fighting to be heard’, she said. 

She told The Guardian: ‘It defies belief. I was completely failed by them, disrespected and insulted. I lost trust and confidence in the police as a result. It was a definite cover-up.’ 

Another women involved in the legal case told BBC News: ‘I have been failed completely by Devon and Cornwall Police.’ 

Another complainant said that one alleged attacker tried intimidate her by using his position at the force as a firearms officer. 

Devon and Cornwall police is also accused of bungling claims of that officers were abusive towards children.

Devon and Cornwall police is also accused of bungling claims of that officers were abusive towards children. Pictured: Stock image of a Police cordon

Devon and Cornwall police is also accused of bungling claims of that officers were abusive towards children. Pictured: Stock image of a Police cordon

One woman, using the pseudonym Emma, is still a serving officer and first reported allegations to the force in 2004, and again in November 2017. But no action was taken on either occasion. 

She made another allegation in December 2017 and even provided the name of a  potential witness. She went to the force again in 2018, alleging coercive and controlling behaviour, and mistreatment of the couple’s teenage child. 

Again, no action was taken but the alleged attacker was promoted twice after the allegations were received, it is claimed.

She said: ‘On one occasion, he lost his temper, when I had my baby … in my arms. 

‘My other child was screaming as he rained punches on any area of my body he could get at. 

‘He cornered me in a room and repeatedly kicked me as he stood over me. I was terrified and was begging him to stop.’

Another of the accused officers is currently being investigated by another force after Devon and Cornwall were accused of making errors while investigating allegations. 

Assistant Chief Constable Jim Pearce said: ‘Devon & Cornwall Police has been made aware of information received on 2 February 2024 which requires careful consideration and appropriate review. 

‘As a result of the information received, the Force has made a mandatory referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

‘The IOPC has asked for further work to be progressed by the Force before they can accept and assess a referral, but we remain in consultation with them in providing the required information.

‘It would be both inappropriate and premature to comment further at this stage.’



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