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Former officer barred from policing following misconduct hearing

A former police officer who sent sexual messages to a child has been placed on a barred list preventing him working in policing and other law enforcement agencies again.

While off-duty, former officer DC Scott Burton sent a number of messages to the child, which included inappropriate and sexualised comments.

The offences were disclosed to Avon and Somerset Police by a third party in June 2021 and an investigation immediately began.

In March 2022, DC Burton was charged with an offence of sexual communication with a child under the age of 16, and he appeared in court.

Following further direction from the Crown Prosecution Service, DC Burton received a police caution for this offence in September and is now required to be on the Sex Offenders’ Register for two years.

An accelerated misconduct hearing, held in front of Chief Constable Sarah Crew, took place today (Monday 5 December).

The Chief concluded the officer would have been dismissed if he hadn’t already resigned, and said he will be placed on a national barred list, which prohibits him from working for the police or law enforcement agencies in the future.

During her conclusion, the Chief Constable said: “Any criminal offence is serious when the perpetrator is a police officer, however a sexual offence must be of the utmost gravity.

“Such offending involves a fundamental breach of the public’s trust in police officers, and it brings the profession of policing into disrepute, irrespective of whether it is perpetrated on duty or off duty.”

The Chief said “psychological harm and emotional distress” had been caused to the victim and their family, as a result of this offending, and a serving officer committing a sexual offence against a child would “undermine public confidence” in the police service.

Following the hearing, Head of Professional Standards, Supt Jane Wigmore, said: “During the court proceedings, this former officer admitted sending inappropriate and sexualised messages to a child. The contact with this child was not connected with his policing role.

“Abhorrent and abusive behaviour such as this is completely incompatible with a role in the police service.

“His actions have had a significant and lasting impact on the victim and their family, and we will ensure they have any support they may need.

“His actions have also impacted on his colleagues, who were unaware of his offending until an investigation began.

“Our work will continue to root out officers and staff who fail to comply with the high standards expected of them, and who through their attitudes, behaviours and actions, let down their colleagues and the public they took an oath to serve and protect.”

The full outcome will be published on the misconduct section of our website when it’s available