A Metropolitan police officer accused of raping two colleagues continues to serve on the force despite being subject to a misconduct inquiry, it has emerged.

The accused man remained in post during a two-year criminal investigation into the allegations, which were first made in 2017, and he is now facing an internal inquiry over potential breaches of professional standards, the BBC and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found. He has never been arrested or charged.

The criminal investigation, which was led by Essex police owing to the location of the alleged offences, was dropped in 2019 after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) concluded there was “no realistic prospect of charge”.

The offences are alleged to have taken place while the officer was off-duty, the Guardian understands. The two alleged victims made separate allegations of physical and sexual assault, which were denied by the officer, it was reported.

Essex police said it conducted “lengthy investigations, which were carried out by specialist detectives and highly trained civilian staff”. But the force said “there were areas for improvement in the management of these investigations”, which were addressed during a complaints process in 2019.

An officer was given management advice in regards to the supervision of the investigations, but even with these changes in place, it is not believed that the case would have reached a successful charge, Essex police said.

Explaining why the man was never arrested, the force said: “In this case, there was no immediate safeguarding concern due to the non-recent nature of the allegations and the lack of contact between suspect and victims … Similarly, there was no significant recent evidence to gather which could not be obtained through interviews.

“Where the majority of investigation can be done by taking accounts, then we are likely to facilitate a voluntarily interview with a suspect. In this case, we did so on two occasions.”

The force added: “No case is ever closed and, should further evidence come to light, we would investigate it.”

One of the women was awarded £17,100 in compensation by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), which concluded that “police evidence indicates that you were a victim of sexual abuse”, while the other woman received £11,600.

The CICA relies on a lower burden of proof than criminal prosecutors when determining whether an offence took place.

The Met said its directorate of professional standards (DPS), tasked with investigating complaints against its officers, monitored the criminal investigation until all matters had concluded, including the victims’ right to review with the CPS, in March 2020.

The Met said that in late February 2021 the DPS determined that the officer had a case to answer for gross misconduct and informed him. The force said a hearing date had yet to be set “but will be expedited as quickly as possible”.

A statement said: “Given the forthcoming hearing, it would not be appropriate at this stage to go into further detail about the allegations which are still being finalised in terms of breaches of standards of professional behaviour.

“The MPS takes all allegations of domestic abuse extremely seriously and is right and proper that the full circumstances of this case should be considered at a hearing. We continue to offer welfare support and assistance to the alleged victims in this case.”

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