Call handler dismissed for gross misconduct after asking to meet vulnerable caller

A West Midlands Police call handler who attempted to form an “inappropriate emotional relationship” with a vulnerable woman who phoned the force for help has been dismissed.

Dec 18, 2020
By Paul Jacques

The call handler, a member of police staff, was accused of asking to meet the woman during conversations with her while at work and via Facebook Messenger. On Facebook he had also asked her to send him a picture of herself.

Following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), a disciplinary panel found the allegations proven and the call handler was dismissed without notice.

Although the hearing took place on October 2, the outcome was not released due to an appeal against the dismissal. That was considered by the force on December 14 when the original decision was upheld.

The disciplinary panel found the call handler had breached police staff standards of professional behaviour, in respect of honesty and integrity, authority respect and courtesy, and discreditable conduct.

IOPC Regional Director Derrick Campbell said: “Police staff, as well as officers, hold positions of trust and there are policies and guidance in place to ensure they maintain professional boundaries between themselves and members of the public they deal with during the course of their duties – many of whom are in vulnerable situations.

“The call handler breached that trust and told our investigator that he knew what he had done was wrong. After we concluded that he had a case to answer for gross misconduct the force organised a hearing and he has faced the consequences of his actions.”

The matter came to light when an advocate for the woman made a complaint to the force on her behalf in July last year. Following a referral from West Midlands Police, the IOPC began an investigation that was completed within nine months.

“During our investigation we studied relevant policies including the force’s social and digital media policy and College of Policing guidance. We also reviewed recordings of the calls involving the call handler and the woman, who were both interviewed by our investigator,” said the IOPC.

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