Dorset Police officer given final written warning following public misconduct hearing

A Dorset Police officer has been given a final written warning following a public misconduct hearing.

The initial hearing took place between Monday 19 March and Friday 23 March 2018 at Dorset Police headquarters at Winfrith. The hearing was adjourned until Tuesday 1 May for closing submissions.

The panel reconvened on Monday 11 June and found that Police Sergeant Stephen Hughes had breached standards of professional behaviour for police officers namely equality and diversity, discreditable conduct and authority, respect and courtesy.

It concluded that the breaches of the professional standards amounted to misconduct and not gross misconduct. The panel decided that the necessary disciplinary outcome was for the officer to receive a final written warning. This is the maximum sanction available for a finding of misconduct.

Sergeant Hughes admitted to making two inappropriate comments toward two female police officers that were deemed by the panel to be unacceptable behaviour.

The panel found the further 31 allegations to be not proven, which related to acting toward four female police constables in a way that was demeaning, undermined their confidence, made them feel stupid, caused them to doubt their judgement, made them feel inadequate and embarrassed them. It was also not proven that he encouraged and/or condoned an attitude among some members of his squad that was negative toward part-time officers.

The allegations occurred between April 2014 and January 2016 when Sergeant Hughes was based at Dorchester police station.

Following the hearing, Chief Constable James Vaughan, said: “All police officers must adhere to the highest standards of professional and personal behaviour.

“Members of the public quite rightly expect these core standards to be constantly upheld and following these standards ensures that officers gain and maintain the trust of the public, which is essential to policing our local communities.

“Our Professional Standards Department thoroughly investigated the allegations and referred the matter to the independently-chaired panel, which made the decision that the officer has breached standards of professional behaviour and gave him a final written warning and we respect the decision of the panel.

“I wish to thank the officers involved who had the courage to report these matters to our Professional Standards Department and for giving evidence during the hearing. We will ensure these officers continue to be supported.”