PC who sent ‘sexually explicit’ messages to vulnerable woman dismissed
A police constable who sent sexually explicit messages to a vulnerable woman while on duty has been dismissed without notice.
The Devon and Cornwall Police officer had used the force computer system to get her contact details, together with those of another vulnerable woman, and used his personal phone to pursue inappropriate relationships with them.
Deputy Chief Constable Jim Nye said the officer’s behaviour was “absolutely unacceptable” and had “undoubtedly eroded the women’s trust in policing”.
A misconduct hearing arranged by the force, following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), heard that the officer messaged both women in 2018 using his personal device after they reported crimes to Devon and Cornwall Police.
He then exchanged a “considerable number” of sexually explicit images and messages with one of the women.
“At the end of our investigation in May 2019, the force agreed with our view that the officer had a case to answer for gross misconduct,” said the IOPC.
‘PC J’, whom the disciplinary panel decided should not be named, faced allegations that he had taken contact details of two vulnerable women, from a police system and used his position to pursue inappropriate relationships with them. It was also alleged that he had exchanged sexually explicit images and messages with one of the women while on duty.
The officer was suspended from the force in October 2018, following the allegations.
The misconduct hearing determined that his actions amounted to gross misconduct by breaching the standard of professional behaviour expected from a police officer.
A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police said: “Following the public hearing, the panel concluded that all the allegations presented were proven, including that the officer had met a member of the public in course of his duties and used that person’s personal contact information in order to pursue a personal relationship, he exchanged a considerable number of sexually explicit messages, WhatsApp messages/text and video with the member of the public while on duty, and he failed in his duties to properly update the victim as to the status of the criminal investigation.
“Following the conclusion of the hearing, the panel determined that the officer would be dismissed without notice. His details will now be submitted to the College of Policing Barred List, preventing him from working within policing.”
Mr Nye said: “Devon and Cornwall Police take all reports of abuse of position very seriously. The vast majority of our officers and staff go to work every day to help the public and keep them safe from harm.
“PC J took advantage of these women, who were considered to be vulnerable, at a time when they had approached the police for help and support.
“This type of behaviour has undoubtedly eroded the women’s trust and confidence in policing. The officer’s behaviour was absolutely unacceptable, damaging to our reputation and will not be tolerated by Devon and Cornwall Police or the communities we serve.”
The deputy chief constable also urged the public that if they suspect a member of the force is abusing their position – “for example, engaging in or pursuing an emotional or sexual relationship with a victim of crime or a witness or contacting you or someone you know while off-duty or via personal telephone numbers” – to report their concerns to Devon and Cornwall Police.
IOPC Regional Director Catrin Evans said: “The officer abused his position of trust to pursue an improper emotional relationship with two vulnerable members of the public who had reported crimes.
“Not only did he fail to show sufficient regard for the professional boundaries he must observe in his role as an officer but he also failed to fulfil his public duty by carrying out investigations into the crimes reported.”
A referral was made to the Crown Prosecution Service, which decided not to charge the officer with any criminal offence.