Senior Cleveland Police detective who abused position for 14 years guilty of gross misconduct
A senior detective who worked in professional standards thought he could get away with coercing female colleagues into having sex because his role protected him from scrutiny, a disciplinary hearing has ruled.
Ex-Cleveland Police detective inspector Simon Hurwood was found guilty of eight counts of gross misconduct and more of misconduct after a panel heard he abused his position over junior colleagues.
Over 14 years he groomed women, bombarding them with texts, knocking their confidence to build it up, then turning the conversation to sex and demanding naked pictures and videos.
A total of 21 women came forward with allegations about his conduct. He coerced one junior colleague to perform a sex act on him in police cars and in a police office.
Another witness said he persuaded her to have sex with him at a police station and afterwards "looked all pleased with himself" as he did up his zip.
He was obsessed with the colour of his colleagues' underwear, the hearing which began at Middlesbrough Football Club on Monday was told.
The force said it will not tolerate anyone of any rank abusing their position of authority and trust adding Hurwood does not represent the rank and file of Cleveland Police.
Mr Hurwood, who joined the force in 1991, was not present at the hearing and not represented. He resigned from Cleveland Police in September.
As a result of the disciplinary hearing he will be barred from rejoining any force.
Panel chairman Simon Mallett said: "He knew as a senior officer he could exploit younger females for sexual purposes."
He used his job at a "recruitment centre for his own sexual gratification" and his behaviour harmed his victims to the point where one needed anti-depressants.
Mr Hurwood laughed off some of the criticism when he was challenged about it, Mr Mallett said.
Mr Mallett added: "His conduct was out of control and unchecked. He considered his role and his contacts in the force protected him from the consequences of his actions."
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John Beggs QC, for the chief constable, said: "Hurwood well understood that his conduct was inappropriate because he told a number of targets to delete messages.
"He invited them to use WhatsApp, he invited them not to use their job phones."
Speaking of the harm caused, Mr Beggs said: "A significant number of victims described feelings of shame, disgust and humiliation.
"The harm caused is not confined to the victims in this case, his behaviour is likely to undermine public trust and confidence."
In a statement outside the hearing, Cleveland Police Chief Constable Mike Veale said: "For more than a decade he acted shamefully and was confronted thanks to a brave individual coming forward and blowing the whistle on him.
"They had the trust and confidence in our Counter Corruption Unit, they believed the team would take their claims seriously, they would be listened to and we would act upon the information they gave us. We did not let them down."
He added: "I will not let a handful of officers and staff bring shame to those hundreds who serve with distinction, honour and a determination to protect our communities with integrity and dedication."
Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger described Hurwood's actions as shameful and completely unacceptable.
He said: "It was important that the gross misconduct hearing took place as it sends out a clear message that such behaviour in the past, the present or future will not be tolerated by Cleveland Police."
Mr Coppinger said since 2015 he and the force have been working to drive standards reform and replace the former Professional Standards Department with a new Directorate of Standards and Ethics.
He added: "As part of that ongoing transformation, and with the full support of the new Chief Constable Mike Veale, we have invested heavily in a counter corruption unit to help empower victims and witnesses of inappropriate behaviour.
"We will ensure past perpetrators are brought to account and that such behaviour has no place in our force of the future."