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Probe into claims of sexist bullying by Forres police 'boys' club'

By Lorna Thompson

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SCOTLAND'S police watchdog is investigating claims of a so-called "boys' club" centred on Forres Police Station.

There are allegations, revealed by STV News, of sexist bullying of female colleagues by a clique of male officers.

It was revealed that the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) probe has been under way for more than 10 months.

Allegations include that a female officer was driven to and abandoned at Roseisle Forest at night to "teach her a lesson" after she made a report of domestic violence against her former partner – also a police officer.

It is also claimed that a heavily pregnant female officer was locked in a room at the police station and had to make her way out via a fire escape.

PIRC is reportedly probing a "handful" of officers, none of whom have been named.

Forres Police Station. Picture: Eric Cormack. Image No.040059.
Forres Police Station. Picture: Eric Cormack. Image No.040059.

The PIRC probe was launched after one female officer felt that her allegations were not being properly investigated by Police Scotland.

It was also reported that – separate to the inquiry – allegations of criminality by other Moray-based officers are being investigated by Police Scotland. These include claims that an on-duty officer was in possession of a knife and that a male officer had sex in a police car with a female domestic abuse victim.

A spokesperson for the PIRC’s investigation team said: "We are investigating allegations of potential criminality against officers of Police Scotland and it would be inappropriate to comment further on a live inquiry.

"The matter was referred to the PIRC by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and a report on the commissioner’s findings will be submitted to the COPFS in due course."

Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Alan Speirs said: "Police Scotland provides an excellent service across our communities in Moray.

"Recent reporting by STV News has sought to link a small number of unrelated incidents which are entirely unconnected and occurred over a number of years.

"Whilst I cannot fully comment on all aspects of these allegations within Moray, I can provide reassurance that they are subject to thorough and independent investigation.

"In February this year, a newly recruited officer resigned before the conclusion of misconduct proceedings into inappropriate use of a police vehicle.

"Another officer was relocated in March this year while enquiries are ongoing into their conduct. A third officer, who has been reported to Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, is currently suspended.

"These matters are not connected and have occurred over the last three years.

"Police Scotland is supporting the ongoing investigation by the PIRC.

"Following the conclusion of all PIRC and Crown related inquiries Police Scotland will address any outstanding conduct complaints.

"The vast majority of our officers and staff conduct themselves with the highest levels of integrity and professionalism. Any allegation of misconduct will be thoroughly investigated."

Moray Conservative MP Douglas Ross said: "I’m extremely concerned to hear about all the allegations highlighted in the media in relation to police officers in Moray and Forres in particular. It is my understanding that there was an investigation by Police Scotland and now the PIRC is investigating further.

"Because this is a live ongoing inquiry it would be wrong to speculate further at this stage, but these are serious allegations that must be fully investigated.

"However, I would like to reassure local people that from discussions I’ve had with the local Police Area Commander, I’m told officers are co-operating fully with this investigation and I trust those who made the complaints are being fully supported.

"Despite these allegations normal service to the public here in Moray continues."

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