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Police officer who attended lockdown party dismissed from force
23 February 2021, 16:33
A police officer who attended a house party during lockdown and then crashed her car while twice over the drink-drive limit has been dismissed.
Pc Tasia Stephens, 24, has also been barred from working elsewhere in the profession after her actions were said to have the potential to undermine confidence in the police.
On Tuesday, a misconduct panel in Pencoed, Bridgend, was told Pc Stephens, who was still serving her probation period, visited her aunt's home on the evening of Saturday April 25 to seek help in processing her first sudden death while on duty.
While at the four-person gathering, she was then told of historic sexual allegations against a family member.
At this time, all of the UK was under strict stay-at-home rules, with people in Wales barred from meeting people indoors or outdoors.
Pc Stephens' representative argued she had been "distressed" by these events, and began drinking at her aunt's home before walking to her own home nearby.
Once there, she then got into her own car, when she was stopped by two of her police colleagues, who were said to not have noticed she was over the limit, and carried on with her car journey despite being reminded by one of the stay-at-home restrictions in place, the hearing heard.
Pc Stephens drove for just under two miles before crashing into the wall of a shop on Gelli Road, Pentre, which the hearing was told led to its owner suffering a financial loss.
Members of the public who heard the sound of the crash alerted police who found Pc Stephens "extremely upset" and made reference to the crime said to have been committed by a family member.
A misconduct panel told Pc Stephens she had chosen to ignore lockdown restrictions in place at a time when adhering to them "was nationally important".
But misconduct panel chair Susan Ridge said: "We are satisfied the impact of these issues was not a factor on the night. More likely than not you wanted company, took a bottle of wine to a relative's house, drank alcohol there, then chose to drive."
Ms Ridge said: "You took the decision to get in your car and drive nearly two miles before you crashed into a shop wall.
"Although you were visiting a relative, you did choose to ignore lockdown restrictions at a time when adhering to them was nationally important."
Ms Ridge said the officer's had undermined confidence in policing, and that her decision to drive showed she gave "no other thought to others while driving when unfit due to alcohol".
Despite acknowledging Pc Stephens had shown "genuine remorse", Ms Ridge added: "We've concluded that your conduct, taken as a whole, is so serious that nothing less than dismissal is needed to maintain public confidence."
On July 10 last year she pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol and was given a conditional discharge for 12 months and banned from driving for 15 months.
Pc Stephens told the misconduct hearing she accepted attending the house party, driving when unfit, and being convicted in court.