A former North Wales Police officer and Police and Crime Commissioner is calling for an independent body to investigate domestic abuse among police officers, and criticised those denying the “culture of sexism and misogyny” within police.

Arfon Jones, best known for his drug decriminalisation advocacy, is also calling for the resignation of North Yorkshire Conservative PCC Philip Allott, who made comments that women should be more “streetwise” following the sentencing of Sarah Everard murderer Wayne Couzens. Mr Allott's comments have been described as “victim blaming”.

READ MORE: Welsh campaigners call on Philip Allott to resign

Jones, who stood down as North Wales PCC earlier this year, worked as a police officer for decades, and told The National: “One of the things that annoys me is these comments, by people in the know, that [Couzens] was ‘one bad apple’.

“No, he wasn’t. There's a culture of sexism and misogyny - we've seen it in the sheer number of people that have been sacked or investigated, you know, across the country.

“It's not just a one off, it's a cultural issue - and the way to crack a cultural issue is to get people to blow the whistle.

“We are what we allow to happen. What the police service need to be doing, and senior police officers in particular, is to support people who are uncomfortable with what their colleagues are doing.

“I don’t think we’ve been doing that very well.

“I worked as a police officer for thirty years, and there were people I worked with that I couldn’t believe were in the job. I wasn’t the only one thinking that, but very little was done.”

READ MORE: Sexual misconduct in South Wales Police among highest in UK

Asked for an example of an occasion where he’d spoken up, Jones talked about the trial of Gordon Anglesea, the North Wales Police superintendent who was jailed in 2016 for historic child sexual abuse.

Angelsea had previously won £375,000 in damages from newspapers which had linked him to abuse, but was later investigated as part of a wider operation on widespread allegations of organised child abuse in the north, eventually being jailed for the 1980s abuse of two young boys.

Arfon Jones gave evidence at Angelsea’s 2016 trial. Gordon Angelsea died in prison two years later.

The National Wales: The former Bryn Estyn children's home was the site of child sexual abuse in the 1970s and 80sThe former Bryn Estyn children's home was the site of child sexual abuse in the 1970s and 80s

“I was one of the few police officers that actually gave evidence,” Jones said.

“I didn’t get any open hostility about it, but I can think of dozens of others who could have given evidence but didn’t.”

Jones believes that things have improved as codes of conduct have become more formalised and structures for accountability have been built over time, but he says many of the problems he remembers from his time as an officer are still there.

“It's down to the selection of officers. They’re chosen because of their ability to be team players,” he added.

“If we’re choosing people on that basis, that’s fundamentally going to create a certain culture, isn't it?”

Recruitment practices and vetting procedures, Jones thinks, need to be tightened up - though he accepts the difficulty of screening for behaviours and attitudes that might not be openly displayed by an individual during their application.

READ MORE: Brother of murdered Daniel Morgan backs devolving justice to Wales

On comments by Metropolitan Police officials that women stopped by lone officers should question them, run away or flag down a passing bus, Jones said: “Even I wouldn’t feel confident doing that.

“You can’t just walk away, or say ‘I’m not coming with you’, because then you’re resisting arrest and making it worse.

“It’s a very, very difficult thing to do.

“I think all these suggestions they’re coming out with – they’re off the cuff, they’re making it up as they go along.”

Jones praised Police Scotland, which last weekend announced its officers will proactively offer verification checks to members of the public when working alone.

The National Wales: The Met Police have come under fire for suggesting women should flag down a bus if they fear a police officer is acting illegitimately (Source: PA)The Met Police have come under fire for suggesting women should flag down a bus if they fear a police officer is acting illegitimately (Source: PA)

The policy came into effect on Saturday and involves police officers putting their radio on loudspeaker for staff in the Police Scotland control room to confirm that they’re a police officer, that they’re on duty, and why they’re speaking to a member of the public.

Critics, however, say that this policy would not protect against on-duty officers abusing their authority while appearing to act for legitimate purposes.

Such as an instance was seen in the case of South Wales Police officer Jeffrey Davies, who was convicted of two rapes in 2016.

Davies was an on-duty family liaison officer in the early 2000s when he raped one woman, a domestic abuse victim he was taking to collect her sons from Ton Pentre police station. She and another woman came forward a decade later, after Davies was convicted of sexually assaulting two other domestic abuse victims he’d met through work.

READ MORE: Police 'institutionally sexist', says Welsh Spycops victim

“There's all sorts of questions we've got to answer,” Jones said. “It’s very difficult to cover all the bases.”

Domestic abuse by police has also been highlighted in recent years.

A report previously found that there are, on average, four allegations of domestic abuse by the partners of police officers and staff lodged per week – and police perpetrators of abuse are less likely to be convicted than others.

“There's no getting away from it - there are domestic violence perpetrators in every force in the country,” Jones said.

“Victims aren’t getting the service they deserve because officers are reluctant to investigate their own.”

He believes there should be a dedicated, independent body to receive and investigate reports of domestic violence by perpetrated by members of the police.

READ MORE: Calls to 'defund the police' in Wales and what it means

The concept of “defunding” the police has gained popularity over the past year, following global racial justice protests sparked by the police murder of George Floyd in the United States.

The idea proposes using funds ordinarily reserved for police to instead tackle the social roots of crime – recruiting specially trained social workers, for example, and improving access to mental healthcare and addiction support.

“Police officers are being used as the social workers of last resort,” Jones said.

“There’s been massive cuts to local authority services, children’s services, vulnerable adult services.

“Mental health is a classic example – police officers are not best trained to deal with people suffering poor mental health.

“I’d like to see that rolled back.”

Jones says that decriminalising drugs would also free up resources that could instead be ploughed into healthcare responses to problem drug use.

“There’d be a massive reduction in organised crime, county lines, seizure operations,” he said.

The Welsh Government are currently pursuing the devolution of justice and policing powers to Wales.

Westminster has so far rejected the proposal, but last week Counsel General Mick Antoniw announced that talks between the two governments would "begin shortly".

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