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  • Atina Dimitrova

Reporting Injustice Episode 4: Investigating the hidden story of domestic abuse by police officers

In this episode, we look at how domestic abuse by police officers often went unpunished… until Alexandra Heal from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism helped set in train a nationwide super-complaint to call for sweeping changes in the system.


As journalists we all want to make a difference, to pursue a story that changes lives. Few do that in a significant way - let alone with their first story out of journalism school. But that is what happened with Alexandra Heal, a journalism student at City, University of London who started looking at the issue of domestic abuse perpetrated by police officers while still studying for her MA.


The story began with Alexandra being intrigued by the anecdote told to her about her friend. She thought there might be something more to it than just a one-off and thought it might work for her MA project. The woman in question wouldn’t talk to her, but undeterred Alexandra decided to investigate further. The stories that she discovered through her interviews showed that there was a clear problem about how police forces dealt with abuse when it was carried out by one of their own.


We also talk to Simon Kerss, who formerly worked for the police and who now researches this at Anglia Ruskin University, and Nogah Ofer, a solicitor at the Centre for Women’s Justice.


Alexandra Heal is a reporter at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Her work on domestic abuse by police officers and forces failing to take it seriously won the Private Eye Paul Foot Award 2020 and led to lawyers submitting a nationwide super-complaint with police regulators. She has published on the topic with the BBC, the Observer, the Times and HuffPost UK. She reports with Andrew Wasley on the impacts of global industrial agriculture for The Bureau's environment partnership with the Guardian, notably the drivers of Amazon deforestation. She previously freelanced for BBC News abroad and in the UK and for the Guardian.



This is the fourth episode of The Knowhow Podcast's special five-part series: Reporting Injustice... A series where we look at some of the key stories in recent years that were turning points in how we saw some fundamental issues. We talk to the journalists who uncovered them about their struggle to bring these stories to public view. And we speak to experts who explain how these reports altered the way society perceived pressing matters of race, class and sexism. From Bill Cosby to Windrush, Grenfell to missing and murdered indigenous women, Reporting Injustice looks at the story behind the stories...

Presented by: Dr. Glenda Cooper and Dr. Lindsey Blumell


Produced by: Atina Dimitrova


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