Gross misconduct finding against former Dorset Police officer

The conduct of a former Dorset Police officer amounted to gross misconduct a special case hearing has concluded.

The allegation was that the former officer, who cannot be named for legal and safeguarding reasons, conducted a sexual relationship with a vulnerable witness who he had met in the course of his duties. As a result of this relationship, the former officer breached the police standards of professional behaviour.

Even though the officer resigned from the Force before the conclusion of the professional standards investigation it still continued. The hearing still took place in line with new regulations introduced last year.

The officer met the female witness when he attended and subsequently investigated a road traffic collision in 2017. During his initial enquiries the officer became aware that the witness had previously been a victim of domestic abuse.

Just days after the collision the officer started to communicate privately with the witness, which quickly led to a sexual relationship.

In the hearing Chief Constable Debbie Simpson concluded that the former officer would have been fully aware of the vulnerability of the witness, which resulted from her previous experience as well as her involvement in the collision.

She said: “I recognise that police officers have to at all times perform to the highest standards of both professional and personal behaviour. The public quite rightly expects us to behave with professionalism and integrity, which engenders the trust we need to perform our roles in the most difficult of circumstances. Maintaining public trust and respect is a fundamental principal on which policing stands.

“As a result of an amendment to relevant law, a police officer now has the ability to resign from his post while under investigation for misconduct, which the involved officer has taken advantage of.

“I believe it is untenable, had the officer still been serving, to continue to hold the position of constable within the police service and I believe I would have been supported in that assertion by members of  the public.

“I have concluded on the balance of probabilities that the former officer’s conduct constitutes gross misconduct and that the appropriate outcome would have been dismissal, if he had still been a member of this police force.”

The hearing took place on Tuesday 27 March 2018 and the former officer involved will now be placed on the police barred list. This list holds information on individuals who have been dismissed from policing and are therefore barred from serving in policing. Those appearing on the list cannot be employed by chief officers, local policing bodies such as police and crime commissioners, the Independent Office for Police Conduct or Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services.