Four years ago, Avon and Somerset Police granted Channel 4 unprecedented access to shadow the operations of its Counter Corruption Unit, akin to the famed AC-12 from the BBC’s Line of Duty.

However, unlike its fictional counterpart, this unit’s mandate extends beyond targeting corrupt officers to encompass any misconduct within the force.

The documentary exposes instances of mistreatment of vulnerable citizens and the frustratingly inadequate responses of the relevant authorities.

The first episode opens with police responding to a call regarding a woman threatening to jump from the Clifton Bridge. Instead of displaying compassion, officers show rough contempt; the distressed woman is forcefully restrained against a squad car, with a hand pressed to her throat, fitted with a spit hood, and pepper-sprayed.

Throughout the ordeal, she is belittled and dismissed, culminating in being pinned to the ground and subjected to a thorough search. The watching investigator expresses profound shame at the scene.

In another distressing clip, two male officers assist hospital staff in preventing a suicidal female patient from absconding. Despite her obvious crisis, during which she repeatedly declares “I want to die,” the officers mock her, laughing about her wetting herself, with one using derogatory language to describe her.

It is shocking, perhaps all the more so because all the officers knew they were wearing body-mounted cameras yet neither incident led to any disciplinary action.

In 2022, less than 1% of the 81,000 complaints made about the police resulted in formal misconduct proceedings with 1500 police officers having been accused of violent offences against women and girls over a period of six months.

Most notably, the documentary also delves into the issue of “revenge pornography,” focusing on PC Dave Lovell, who was investigated for distributing intimate images of three women without their consent.

It becomes evident throughout the course of the programme that Lovell had a history of inappropriate behaviour during his tenure with Avon and Somerset Police.

In 2006, he received a verbal warning for sending inappropriate images, and in 2016, he was issued a written warning for making inappropriate comments.

Despite his known conduct within the force, it was tolerated, with standing jokes often made about it, highlighting a systemic inappropriate subculture of misogynistic behaviour among officers.

Lovell was eventually dismissed from Avon and Somerset Police in May 2023, and a sexual risk order was imposed against him by North Somerset Magistrates Court on June 26 of the same year.

At Farleys, our team specialises in Actions Against the Police and other detaining authorities in cases of unreasonable detention, brutality, misfeasance, and Inquests. To speak with one of the team please contact us on 0845 287 0939 or get in touch by email.