Dismissal ‘unfortunate’ for force reputation

THE chairman of a police authority says the sacking of a Cleveland policeman for sexual touching just days after its chief constable was dismissed is “unfortunate” for the force’s reputation.

But Cleveland Police Authority Chairman Stuart Drummond says the disciplinary measures show that “misconduct will not be tolerated at any level”.

Mr Drummond, also Mayor of Hartlepool, made the comments following news that a 36-year-old police constable became the second officer to be dismissed by the force in just five days, following former Chief Constable Sean Price out the door.

The unamed PC was booted out for gross misconduct after an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

A disciplinary hearing upheld the allegation that he had inappropriately touched the woman in question by cuddling her, had abused his position as a police officer, acted without honesty and integrity, and behaved unprofessionally.

On Friday, Mr Price was dismissed after a disciplinary hearing by Cleveland Police Authority found he was guilty of two counts of gross misconduct.

Mr Drummond said: “While it’s unfortunate and again doesn’t make great reading for Cleveland Police, it is not really something I or the police authority would be involved in as there are completely different disciplinary procedures for constables compared to senior management.

“However, I would say we are very strict on conduct matters and take such matters very seriously regardless of rank. Inappropriate conduct won’t be tolerated at any level.”

He added: “Police officers have got to set an example and gain people’s trust and confidence and if that’s not happening, action will be taken.”

In the latest case the incident happened last year after the woman had been arrested on suspicion of shoplifting in Stockton.

The officer did not deal with the woman correctly as a detainee and touched her inappropriately.

Following the woman’s complaint the matter was referred to the IPCC who managed an investigation by Cleveland Police’s professional standards department.

The officer admitted he made contact with the woman by giving her a cuddle and this act was deemed wholly inappropriate and in the circumstances was considered an act of gross misconduct for which he was dismissed without notice.

IPCC Commissioner Nicholas Long said: “This officer acted in a completely inappropriate way to a woman who was in his custody. His behaviour implied he would assist the woman only if she accepted his sexual advances.

“Such behaviour is reprehensible and it is correct he has been dismissed.

“The IPCC recently highlighted the issue of officers abusing their power for sexual gratification and, regrettably, this is another example. Such behaviour appears to be used to target those who are vulnerable and it is a fundamental betrayal of trust.”

A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “A serving police officer was dismissed on Friday, October 5, from Cleveland Police after he was found to have committed gross misconduct. The 36-year-old officer was arrested on suspicion on indecent assault but was released without charge.

“An internal disciplinary hearing upheld the allegation of sexual touching, and found the officer had abused his position as a police officer, acted without honesty and integrity and behaved unprofessionally.”