Gwent Police has formally apologised today over its handling of domestic abuse allegations against an officer.

The force said it was "extremely sorry" after two female trainees were subject to coercive and abusive behaviour by a more senior officer, Clarke Joslyn.

The apology formed part of a settlement in a civil claim of negligence against Gwent Police, with the two victims alleging a "boy's club culture" of inaction, bullying and intimidation in the force.

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One victim, herself a former police officer, says she's lost faith in the police as a public service.

Deputy Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman said: “I met with the two women involved in this case to hear their experiences first-hand and I’ve written directly to them with my apology.

"I am extremely sorry that at a time when they felt most in need of our support that we let them down.

“There are important lessons to be learnt to make sure that if anyone within the force, or a member of the public, raises an issue that they can be confident of being heard and having the issues they raise investigated thoroughly.

“Public expectations around our standards of behaviour are quite rightly very high.

"There is no place in our force for inappropriate workplace behaviour or the abuse of an individual’s position to exploit others.

“We take any allegations of this nature very seriously and they will be thoroughly investigated, and action taken. 

"We will also work with individuals raising concerns to make sure they have the support they want and need."

The National reported on the Clarke Joslyn case last month, as part of a wider look at the issue of violence and misogyny within Welsh police forces.

A misconduct hearing last year found that PC Joslyn had engaged in a repeated pattern of “physically abusive, domineering and controlling” behaviour towards two ex-partners, including choking and on one occasion pinning his girlfriend to a wall while holding a knife.

Those two ex-partners, known under the false names "Jodie" and "Sarah", were trainee police officers when they met Joslyn, who had been involved with both women's training.

The National Wales: Gwent Police Logo2.jpg

Jodie began a relationship with Joslyn after joining Gwent Police in 2010. 

A statement by The Center for Women's Justice, who helped the two women bring their case against the force, said: "Jodie was subjected coercive and controlling behaviour including severe mental abuse as well as physical abuse.

"She finally managed to leave the relationship but was left anxious and frightened after Joslyn continued to stalk and harass her for several months."

Jodie made a formal complaint to her employer, detailing episodes of Joslyn's violent and "high-risk" behaviour, and told a senior officer that she feared he "would one day go on to kill someone."

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The report was not investigated, and Joslyn received only a verbal harassment warning. Jodie was advised to transfer to a different department, which she did after Joslyn breached the conditions of his harassment warning and no action was taken.

Jodie says she continued to experience bullying and intimidation from senior officers, and was the subject of workplace gossip.

She said today: “It took all of my strength and courage for me to report these crimes back in 2012.

"When I wasn’t taken seriously, my confidence and trust were shattered beyond repair.

"I was left not only feeling worthless but also that my integrity was being questioned.

"My aim all the way through this was to bring a domestic violence perpetrator to justice and prevent anybody else going through what I did.

"Sadly this was not the case due to the negligence of Gwent Police and its boys club culture."

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Sarah, meanwhile, met PC Joslyn shortly after Jodie made her initial complaint. 

Like Jodie, she was subjected to psychological and physical abuse over the course of her relationship with the officer.

She didn't report his behaviour until 2014, after finding out he had begun a relationship with yet another colleague.

Sarah's complaint resulted in a criminal investigation, but no further action was taken. 

Joslyn was not dismissed until 2019, when it had become clear that a number of other women had been victimised by him over several years - though the officer had already resigned by the time this decision was taken.

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In the meantime, Sarah says she too was bullied and victimised by coworkers, and Gwent Police had taken "no steps" to protect her during the investigation.

Sarah said: “When I came forward to report Clarke Joslyn’s illegal behaviour - doing exactly what I had always been, as a police officer, trained to do - I wasn’t just denied support; I lost everything.

"My reputation, my health, and ultimately - my career in the police.

“Whilst I am glad that, after years of fighting for my reputation, I have been publicly vindicated in this way, this legal outcome is not - and cannot ever be - closure for me.

"I entered Gwent Police a bubbly young woman who was excited about her job and her future.

"When I left just 5 years later, I was completely broken. I have even lost my confidence in the police as a public service.

"After the way they treated me back then, I cannot even imagine reaching out to them for help in an emergency."

Jodie and Sarah's case is part of a larger super-complaint against police forces in the UK by The Centre for Women's Justice.

The charity, which works with lawyers, activists, survivors of gendered violence and service providers to fight for women's justice, has compiled a dossier of evidence on police-perpetrated violence.

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Sarah and Jodie are just two of more than 155 women alleging gendered violence and neglect among police.

The dossier identifies a number of themes in the testimony of these women, including failures in investigation, improper responses to complaints, personal links between the accused officer and those investigating them, and accused officers using police powers and status as part of the abuse.

The National Wales: Harriet Wistrich (Source: Maina Kiai)Harriet Wistrich (Source: Maina Kiai)

Harriet Wistrich, Director of Centre for Women’s Justice, stated: “Taken together, these cases reveal a long history of institutional sexism – and a “boys’ locker room” culture – within Gwent Police that has no place in any workplace, let alone a police force, which exists to serve and protect victims of crime.

“There is mounting evidence that Sarah and Jodie’s cases are part of a wider police problem, as illustrated in our super-complaint on police-perpetrated domestic abuse launched last year, which is still under investigation.

"We very much welcome the Deputy Chief Constable’s promise to change the culture from within, and sincerely hope that other forces will follow suit.”

Support for victims of domestic abuse can be found here.

If you have had a similar experience reporting police-perpetrated domestic abuse, you can contact Rebecca Wilks here.

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