Northumbria police officer sacked for inappropriate sexual messages to student

Officer A attended a misconduct hearing at Houghton-le-Spring police station


An experienced officer at Northumbria police has been sacked for allegedly sending explicit messages to a student officer.

The former police officer, now known as Officer A, sent a woman, referred to as Witness D, messages about her bum and mentioned a dream about having a threesome.

In a misconduct hearing, it was reported the officer had a supervisory role at the time, added the woman on various social media platforms including Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp following a garden party attended by police staff, reports ChronicleLive.  

Witness D attended the misconduct at the Houghton-le-Spring police station and explained how Officer A sent her inappropriate and explicit messages, such as: “Missing your a**”. She said some of the messages made her feel uncomfortable and violated and that she was trying to “tolerate” them.

When asked in court why she did not tell him to stop sending her sexual messages, she said: “I was worried that if I did challenge I would have some kind of repercussion on shift. I didn’t want to upset the balance in a professional setting.”

However, as defence Officer A claimed the messages were not one-sided and described the conversations between the two as “flirty banter” between us both. The officer told the hearing: “She sent a photograph to me, in her underwear.”

The former officer further alleged the woman had sent him a picture of her on a night out and told him what colour underwear her partner had bought her for Christmas.

The three day hearing also heard how Witness D claimed she had told Officer A about an incident of being sexually touched by another police officer, but had failed to act on the disclosure as a supervisor.

Officer A denied the claim and said Witness A did not mention the sexual allegation and had given him no cause to believe anything needed to be reported.

Adam Keenaghan, for the appropriate authority, said the messages sent by Officer A demonstrated him as the instigator, and Witness D gave “bland” responses. Keenaghan further said Officer A notably turned mundane conversations sexual and were “plainly inappropriate”.

Concerning the alleged sexual touching report, Mr Keenaghan argued Officer A failed to make enquiries and ask further questions.

Officer A’s defendant, Ryan Dowding combated Keenaghan’s claims and said both parties had “mutual flirtation” and the picture of Witness D in her underwear is the furthest from a “bland response”.

Dowding further argued Officer A did not have enough “sufficient information” to trigger an obligation on him to report the said incident, and if he had been provided with the right information he would have acted accordingly.

A panel conducted on Wednesday afternoon that Officer A had breached the Standards of Professional Behaviour in regards to both allegations.

Chair Wendy Evans said the sexual messages, that Officer A sent to the student officer, amounted to gross misconduct and the failure to report the alleged sexual incident was further misconduct.

Ms Evans told the hearing Officer A was the “significant driver” of the inappropriate sexual messages exchanged between them and Witness D had a clear lack of engagement and interest to not take the conversations further.

Evans further commented on Witness D sharing a photograph in her underwear, however, argued Officer A was a “more senior and significantly experienced officer” and should have told her this was inappropriate.

Mr Keenaghan previously told the hearing how Witness D had also received messages asking about her favourite sexual position and what underwear she wore under her uniform at work. Ms Evans said the panel were satisfied that she was the recipient of such messages.

The hearing further heard an incident whereby Officer A told the woman in a message that he was looking at a photograph of her wearing boots and thinking about the picture of her in her underwear, which he later deleted.

He further asked if she minded him looking at photographs of her and thinking of her in that way, to which she responded: “No, it’s all good”.

Ms Evans argued there was a power imbalance at the time, telling the hearing: “We do not find her response surprising or unreasonable”. She further commented on how the balance of power was attached to Officer A and he had often turned normal conversations into a sexual nature.

Ms Evans told the hearing that a final written warning would not fulfil the purpose of the misconduct regime and that the only possible sanction was dismissal without notice. She placed Officer A on the policing barred list.

Featured image via Google Maps

Related articles recommended by this author: