Officer pursued sexual relationship with domestic abuse victim

20 October 2021, 20:56 | Updated: 20 October 2021, 21:00

The disciplinary hearing found that the Hampshire Constabulary constable had committed five breaches of regulations.
The disciplinary hearing found that the Hampshire Constabulary constable had committed five breaches of regulations. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

A police officer has been found guilty of gross misconduct for pursuing a sexual relationship with a vulnerable victim by asking her out for cocktails and sending her 51 texts in one day.

The Portsmouth-based PC, who was granted anonymity by the tribunal out of concern for his "welfare", could now face dismissal.

The disciplinary hearing found that the constable, who was specially trained in domestic abuse, had committed five breaches of regulations through his "inappropriate contact", which included sending messages from his personal phone.

The panel heard evidence that the officer had sent the woman 51 messages in a single day, and that texts would often include kisses.

The hearing found he had deleted messages to cover up his contact with the victim, who he referred to as "hun" in a number of texts.

He also used the force's computer system without a policing purpose.

Legally Qualified Chair Sarah Gaunt said: "Due to the extent, timing, method of communication between officer A and female A, the officer not only failed to maintain an appropriate boundary, but did so in order to pursue a sexual and/or emotional relationship.

"Further, officer A was in a position of authority in respect of female A who was vulnerable."

Speaking in a pre-recorded interview played at the hearing, the victim described the officer "constantly messaging" her to make sure she was OK.

She said she believed officer A had a "romantic interest" in her.

She added: "I remember him pointing out there's a bar or a restaurant... and he said in text 'when this is all over I will take you out for cocktails and cheer you up'.

"When you invite someone out for dinner and cocktails that's a date, that's not a normal police thing to do... that's a date invitation."

Victoria von Wachter, the lawyer who presented the allegations to the tribunal, said: "The officer was in a position of trust with a vulnerable victim.

"He concealed wrongdoing and continued with this behaviour even though he knew it was inappropriate.

"The officer's conduct has fallen well below the expected standard, this will erode the trust and confidence the communities have in Hampshire Constabulary."

A reporting restriction was put in place to prevent the media from identifying officer A.

The panel said the decision had been made based upon a review of medical evidence, in order to protect the officer's welfare.

The panel will resume tomorrow to determine the sanction to be handed down to Officer A.