In the last four years more than a dozen Suffolk police staff members were accused of domestic abuse – but only one was sacked from their job.

Research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism shows that between 2018 and 2021, 11 police officers and six civilian staff were the subject of domestic abuse reports made to the force, but none have faced prosecution.

A Freedom of Information Request revealed that only in 2018 did two misconduct hearings take place, following which one person was dismissed.

The research shows 13 of the officers and staff accused of abuse offences are in fact still serving within the constabulary.

This is a statistic campaigners say proves police forces tend to "close ranks" and perpetuate "toxic misogynist cultures" instead of protecting women and girls.

Ruth Davison, CEO of domestic abuse charity Refuge, said the figures were likely to be "scratching the surface".

"How can women feel safe reporting heinous crimes when those investigating them are their abusers or their peers?" she said.

A spokesman for Suffolk Police said 800 officers and staff had been trained to deal with domestic abuse, and there were policies in place for victims where the perpetrator is a police officer or the victim is an officer themselves.

"We have a detailed internal complaints process which takes place alongside any criminal investigation", he said.

"Gross misconduct hearings are carried out by an independent panel headed by a legally qualified chair: their decision is completely independent of the police and based on the evidence given.

"Following conviction or caution of a police officer, the matter of sanction in respect of the officer's employment is considered by the Chief Constable and is based upon proportionality and legality."

Liz Jenkins, the director of local domestic abuse charity Alumah, said victims already have "very little trust in the police" and more needs to be done to rebuild it.

"When hearing that someone in the police force has been found guilty of domestic abuse, it appears to send messages that they live by different rules", she explained.

"Tackling misogyny in the police is difficult to solve.

"Finding out what officers believe when interviewing to join the force would be discrimination, but continuous training around what abuse is and what to look for in victims could be helpful."

'We take allegations of misconduct very seriously'

The way Suffolk Constabulary deals with misconduct among officers' came to light earlier this year when a policeman was found to have had a sexual relationship with a domestic abuse victim he met through work.

In May 2019, another serving officer, who was friends with the victim, had reported her concerns about the relationship to her supervisor.

The case was referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct and it was decided the officer had a "case to answer for gross misconduct".

Before that could take place, he quit his job.

At the hearing, gross misconduct was proven and the officer would have been dismissed if he had still been serving.

He was also placed on the Police Barred List.

At the time, a police spokeswoman said: “We take any allegations of misconduct very seriously, but particularly those of a sexual nature given the trusted position police officers work in."