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Former PC barred from policing for inappropriate contact with victim

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A former PC has been barred from serving as a police officer again after he made inappropriate contact by regularly messaging a woman he met when she reported an abusive relationship.

Gross misconduct was found proven against former PC X at a one-day hearing held at Avon and Somerset Police’s headquarters in Portishead on Monday 18 December.

Former PC X, who was based in Somerset, was granted anonymity by the independent Legally Qualified Chair prior to the hearing. He would have been dismissed had he not resigned already, the panel ruled.

He faced several allegations relating to establishing or attempting to establish an inappropriate relationship with Ms A who he met in late-2021 when called to a domestic incident.

He was found to have breached standards by three means, namely through discrediting and undermining public confidence in policing; honesty and integrity, in concealing the communications he had with Ms A; plus authority, respect and courtesy, in pursuing an improper relationship with a person he knew may be vulnerable to an abuse of trust and power.

Former PC X’s actions came to light when we received a complaint last year. A mandatory referral was made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) who decided to take on the investigation.

The IOPC’s investigation found former PC X made 17 calls to Ms A and sent her 43 text messages from his work phone over a 10-week period. Some of this contact was when he was off duty. He also used WhatsApp on his personal phone to contact her, viewed her accounts on social media and twice checked her personal profile on an internal electronic recording system without a policing purpose.

Detective Chief Inspector Ayesha Giles, of the Professional Standards Department, said: “Ms A was a person who was in need of the police’s help. Instead she ended up receiving inappropriate contact from one of the officers who had been dispatched to provide that service.

“There can be no excuse for former PC X’s actions. He knew the potential vulnerabilities Ms A would have as a victim reporting domestic abuse, and yet still made a significant amount of contact with her, which was not required for him to professionally carry out his job.

“Former PC X chose to resign before the hearing, and did not attend it to defend his actions. It is right and proper that he is barred from serving as an officer in future.

“The outcome of this hearing reinforces our commitment to rooting out inappropriate behaviour, which has no place in policing. Public trust and confidence in policing is dependent on such robust action being taken.”

A copy of the LQC’s outcome report will be published on the misconduct page of our website in due course.