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Police officers ‘recorded making homophobic, racist and sexist remarks’ face misconduct hearing

Written by on 06/10/2020

Six policemen will face a misconduct hearing on Monday after officers were allegedly covertly recorded making homophobic, racist and sexist remarks.

Hampshire Constabulary said the six officers are accused of making “discriminatory”, “inappropriate” or “offensive” comments during a recording at the Northern Police Investigation Centre in Basingstoke.

Some of the officers are also alleged to have sent “discriminatory, inappropriate or offensive” emails from work accounts, along with phone and WhatsApp messages of a similar nature, the force added.

Detective Inspector Timothy Ireson, Detective Sergeant Oliver Lage, Detective Sergeant Gregory Willcox, trainee Detective Constable Andrew Ferguson, PC James Oldfield and PC Craig Bannerman will face a police disciplinary hearing in Winchester on Monday.

DI Ireson has retired and PC Bannerman has resigned since the covert recording was made at Hampshire Police’s serious organised crime unit office between 9 March 2018 and 2 April 2018.

PC Oldfield is also accused of attending work on 1 April 2018 while unfit for duty “due to excessive alcohol consumption the previous evening/that morning”, the force said.

Meanwhile, DS Willcox faces a further allegation that he falsely recorded hours and overtime on 23 March 2018, it added.

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A Hampshire Constabulary spokesman said: “It is alleged that the breaches of the standards of professional behaviour outlined are so serious that, if proven, dismissal would be justified and, as such, it is alleged that the behaviour amounts to gross misconduct.”

The force told Sky News in October last year that eight officers and one member of police staff were found to have “a case to answer for gross misconduct”, while another officer had resigned over the case.

It revealed later in July that the case against one officer had been withdrawn “on medical grounds”.

Hampshire Constabulary previously said that the “complex and lengthy” investigation had involved 17 officers and four members of police staff and was supervised by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

The inquiry was launched in February 2018 but it was only made public 12 months later when the force revealed five members of staff had been suspended.

Hampshire Constabulary was accused last year of a “scandalous” lack of transparency over the investigation after it refused to divulge details of the complaints facing the police staff.

Following a freedom of information request by Sky News, the force said it did not hold the information “in a retrievable format” and it would cost too much to provide it.

At the time, anti-racism charity The Monitoring Group criticised the force and pointed to the damning inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, which stressed the need for police to be more open about racism allegations.

Suresh Grover, director of The Monitoring Group, told Sky News last year: “The fact that it involves an investigation of a large group of staff members exposes the possibility of an existing office culture of prejudice, similar to the canteen culture that existed in police forces in the 1970s.”

The police disciplinary hearing is listed to last three weeks.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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