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Officer dismissed and barred from policing following accelerated misconduct hearing

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A police officer who engaged in sexual activity with a vulnerable woman he met online has been dismissed and barred from policing. 

Ross Knox, a police constable based in South Gloucestershire, engaged in consensual sexual activity with the woman while off-duty between April/May 2022 and January 2023, despite knowing she was vulnerable. 

An accelerated misconduct hearing was held in front of Chief Constable Sarah Crew on Friday (May 17), in which gross misconduct was proven. He was dismissed without notice and will now be placed on a barred list preventing him from serving in policing or other law enforcement agencies again.   

Our Professional Standards Department launched an investigation following concerns raised by a third party in December 2022. Following careful and prolonged engagement with the woman, as well as intelligence-led enquiries, investigators were able to identify Ross Knox as the officer and he was suspended from duty in June 2023. 

The sexual activity took place outside and in a public place, except on one occasion when it was at the woman’s home. In addition to the sexual activity, Knox sent the woman images of himself in police uniform. He also sent social media messages to her which were derogatory.  

In reaching the decision, the Chief Constable said: “PC Knox’s conduct was intentional. He made an intentional decision to engage online with the woman in this case, to meet her and to engage in sexual activity with her, including in a place where the public have ready access. 

“Misconduct involving sexual impropriety is invariably serious and, can significantly undermine public trust in the policing profession. Seriousness is exacerbated where the subject of an officer’s behaviour is a vulnerable person. 

“More broadly, the conduct of PC Knox, now in the public domain, is likely to cause significant damage to public confidence in Avon and Somerset Police and the Police Service, undermining the efforts of so many officers and staff, particularly male officers and staff, who dedicate themselves to serving and protecting the public and doing so in a way that inspires trust. The confidence of women and girls is likely to be particularly harmed. 

“The conduct of PC Knox is so serious and so injurious to public confidence in the police service that nothing less than dismissal without notice will suffice to safeguard public confidence in, and the reputation of, the Police Service; to uphold high professional standards and deter misconduct; and to protect the public.” 

In an impact statement, read out during the hearing, the victim said: “How PC Knox used me for his own sexual needs with no care or thought for me as a human being has harmed me and it continues to harm me whenever I think about it. He has abused his position of trust by exploiting someone vulnerable for his own needs.” 

Assistant Chief Constable Joanne Hall said afterwards: “This officer’s actions were selfish, deliberate and disgraceful, exacerbated by the fact he knew the woman to be vulnerable and he failed to safeguard her.  

“In one of the messages he even said he’d need to be careful about his behaviour as it could lose him his job, which only adds to the level of culpability. He knew he was doing wrong and carried on regardless. This reckless abuse of his position is an absolute betrayal of the values and standards of behaviour expected of him.   

“He hasn’t just let down the public he took an oath to serve and protect, he’s let down the vast majority of officers and staff who care deeply about the vital role they perform for our communities. 

“The public should be assured we are tireless in our pursuit of those who have no place in policing and we’ll make sure they cannot serve again.   

“We encourage all our staff to call-out any inappropriate or discriminatory behaviour, whether they see it, hear it, or are informed about it by a third party, and we have confidential reporting systems in place to allow them to do this.” 

The public can now contact a new Police Anti-Corruption and Abuse Reporting Service, where they can anonymously or confidentially report corruption, abuse, or criminality within policing. This is being run by the independent charity Crimestoppers. More details about how to report can be found online here: Police Anti-Corruption and Abuse | Crimestoppers (theiline.co.uk) 

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