Twenty-three Hampshire and Isle of Wight police officers are suspended on full pay because of allegations of sexual abuse, touching, ‘or worse’.

The revelation came at a meeting of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight crime and police panel, and was made by the county’s police and crime commissioner Donna Jones.

Police behaviour and misconduct has been under the spotlight since the murder of Sarah Everard by police officer Wayne Couzens last year, and has intensified with the recent conviction of fellow Metropolitan Police officer David Carrick for nine counts of rape.

This week, news broke that 98 police officers in Greater Manchester have been accused of sex offences.

The Home Office has asked police forces to check their staff.

Mrs Jones said: "In 2022 the number of sexual allegations increased in the whole country, which is not acceptable."

Home Office figures show 1,938 misconduct allegations were made against Hampshire Constabulary officers and handled under the formal complaints process in the year to April 2022.

Of these, 1,867 (96 per cent) resulted in no action being required against the police officers involved.

Just five allegations were referred to official misconduct proceedings and 34 were referred to the reflective practice review process – when an officer’s behaviour falls short of expectations but does not amount to misconduct.

The figures cover the total number of allegations rather than the number of complaints – one complaint could contain several allegations of misconduct. They do not cover any complaints handled outside the formal process, where it was felt a detailed enquiry was not needed.

"Victims of police abuse are treated in a very special way," added Mrs Jones. "They are offered additional protection to not feel intimidated.

"We have an anticorruption team where colleges can report officers anonymously. Some of them are not feeling confident reporting through the intranet but I always offer different ways to report confidentially.

"There is still much work to do."