Officer dismissed over ‘inappropriate messages’ to two female victims of crime
A West Mercia Police officer who sent “unprofessional and flirtatious messages” to two women who were victims of crime has been dismissed for gross misconduct.
Police Constable Andrew Hope faced allegations of gross misconduct after being accused of having inappropriate communication with two women he had met through the course of his duties. Both women were victims of crime.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) began an investigation in June 2021 following a referral from West Mercia Police about the 27-year-old officer’s conduct.
“Between dates in July 2019, the Telford and Wrekin-based officer was alleged to have sent unprofessional and flirtatious messages to a woman, an assault victim, using his force mobile phone,” said the IOPC.
“He was also accused of sending her an improper image and attempting to conceal the nature of the contact by switching the conversation on to social media.
“On dates in February and March 2021, he was alleged to have sent unprofessional and flirtatious messages using his work mobile phone to another woman, a victim of domestic abuse.”
A separate allegation related to him downloading a sexually explicit image on to his work mobile, without a policing purpose.
At a police disciplinary hearing on Tuesday (December 20) before a legally qualified, independent chair, it was determined that PC Hope, had breached police standards of professional behaviour for authority, respect and courtesy; duties and responsibilities; honesty and integrity; and discreditable conduct.
He was dismissed after gross misconduct was found proven.
IOPC Regional Director Derrick Campbell said: “Abuse of position for sexual purpose is a form of serious corruption. Cases such as these have the real potential to impact on public confidence in the police.
“At the outset of their service, it is made clear to officers that it is unacceptable to have or seek inappropriate and unprofessional contact with members of the public who they deal with through their professional duties.
“PC Hope’s messages indicate that he was attempting to instigate inappropriate relationships with two women who were victims of crime, which is clearly contrary to both force policy and police guidance on maintaining professional boundaries.
“Following a gross misconduct hearing it has been determined that he should be dismissed without notice. He will also be added to the police barred list, preventing him from future employment with the service.”
Deputy Chief Constable Alex Murray said: “PC Hope’s actions are not acceptable and will never be tolerated in West Mercia Police. We always strive for the highest standards and seek to remove any officers from the force who engage in this type of behaviour.
“When someone calls the police they need to be assured that they will receive the most professional service. The actions of this officer have not only let the public down, but also the vast majority of officers who work across the force serving victims and bringing offenders to justice.”
The IOPC said its investigators interviewed the officer and analysed his work account and phones. At the end of its investigation in November last year, it submitted a report to the force with its view that PC Hope had a case to answer for gross misconduct.
PC Hope will now be placed on the College of Policing barred list.