THE CEO of a rape and sexual abuse charity has said she is 'not surprised' by the actions of Avon and Somerset Police officers in the new Channel 4 documentary, To Catch a Copper.

SARSAS, a rape crisis centre, feels specialist training should be implemented for all front-line staff in police forces in response to the final episode of the three-part docuseries.

According to the charity, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 18 men will experience rape or sexual abuse as an adult.

Claire Bloor, CEO of SARSAS said: “Unfortunately, we know that the distressing stories of police misconduct such as those featured in To Catch a Copper will not be limited to the Avon and Somerset area.

"As high-profile cases involving police officers like those of Wayne Cousins and David Carrick and subsequent reports such as The Baroness Casey review have shown, vetting processes and misconduct procedures within the police nationally are woefully inadequate.

"While we are deeply shocked by some of the footage included in this final episode, we are not surprised.

"Many of the people we support speak to of us of negative experiences with the police or, on the most part, they tell us of the many reasons why they do not feel they can come forward to report crimes of sexual violence for fear of not being believed or taken seriously.

“We recognise that this documentary was filmed before the introduction of Operation Bluestone, a specialist approach to rape and sexual offence investigations in Avon and Somerset.

"We welcome this approach which has introduced measures to improve support and engagement with victim-survivors of rape and sexual assault and has seen some improvement for those who choose to report.

"However, these stories are a stark reminder of how much more needs to be done to ensure a criminal justice system that victim-survivors can trust — one that is transparent, accountable, and compassionate towards those it seeks to protect.”

Avon and Somerset Police Chief Constable Sarah Crew said: "The final episode of To Catch A Copper featured two individuals whose actions fell significantly below the standards we expect anyone serving in the police to uphold. We took robust action against them and they are rightly barred from ever serving in the police again.

"It is important to recognise the overwhelming majority of officers and staff work every day to keep the public safe, prevent crime and help the communities they serve. They are appalled by the misconduct witnessed in those cases, just like the public.

"The documentary may have been broadcast this week, but the filming schedule has meant the incidents themselves occurred several years ago. We have learnt a lot and made significant changes in that time.

"The updated College of Policing guidance from 2022, which guides every police service on misconduct outcomes, has been fully adopted, with specific additional focus on Violence Against Women and Girls, abuse of position for a sexual purpose, and discrimination.

"A large percentage of reports about sexual misconduct come from within the organisation, which shows there is confidence to speak out and not be a bystander to inappropriate conduct. But we cannot be complacent and we hope this will be further improved by the closer links our Counter Corruption Unit has developed with victim service providers and the creation of new sexual misconduct advocate roles to support colleagues who have experienced such incidents.

"The importance of not letting people who think such conduct is acceptable into policing in the first place cannot be overstated. National vetting procedures have been strengthened and the largest ever scrutiny of vetting in policing was carried out last year following the shocking cases of Wayne Couzens and David Carrick, the results of which showed our processes in Avon and Somerset are effective.

"The strides Avon and Somerset Police have taken through Operation Bluestone in investigating rape and serious sexual offences (RASSO) by working with charities and academics has seen it become the basis for a new national model. Importantly this approach has led to better support and outcomes for victims, with charge rates increasing.

"It was announced last September by the College of Policing there will be new training for police to help them investigate RASSO offences and support victims. We expect that training to begin in Avon and Somerset in the spring.

“Every person who reports a sexual offence will be believed. Those crimes will be thoroughly investigated and we will seek a criminal charge where we possibly can – regardless of whether it's one person's word against another. We can also ensure victims get access to the support they need when reporting a crime and throughout the criminal justice process from a number of dedicated organisations who we are committed to work collaboratively with.”

In the first episode of the docuseries, the show looked into a misconduct hearing in which an on-duty Weston-Super-Mare police sergeant had sex with a drunk woman in his car.

Barrister Mark Ley-Morgan, representing the force, said in his opening statement to the misconduct hearing on Thursday, August 18, that the officer offered the woman a lift home while on duty after she was thrown out of Skinny Dippers nightclub in Weston-super-Mare in the early hours of Christmas Eve, 2017.

At the end of the two-week hearing, the panel ruled that ex-Sgt Lee Cocking did not breach standards of professional behaviour for police officers in relation to honesty and integrity and discreditable conduct.

The episode of the documentary showed the woman's initial call to the police, in which she said she had been 'taken advantage of'.

It also featured interviews with Lee Cocking and his wife, who he is still married to - she explained she believes his version of events, and has forgiven him.