Police officer fired for propositioning vulnerable woman for sex

27 August 2020, 15:54

Pc Booth, 40, claimed he had been set up by the woman and her friend
Pc Booth, 40, claimed he had been set up by the woman and her friend. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

A police officer has been fired for propositioning a vulnerable woman for sex while he was on duty.

The woman, known as Miss A, told a four-day misconduct panel how Pc Darren Booth, 40, asked her for sex and suggested she arrange a threesome after he was called to deal with reports of anti-social behaviour in Castleford, West Yorkshire, in March last year.

Miss A said she later met the officer after he finished his shift when he made further sexual comments and asked to kiss her at the flat where she was staying.

Pc Booth, a married man, claimed he had been set up by the woman and her friend but a panel, which includes West Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams, concluded on Thursday there had been gross misconduct.

The panel's independent chairman, Geoffrey Payne, said Pc Booth's explanation that he had gone to the flat by himself to get legitimate information from Miss A after midnight and without telling anyone was not credible.

He noted that when two police sergeants arrived at the flat, after being tipped off by Miss A, the officer gave no explanation for why he was there in "highly irregular" circumstances and just looked anxiously at the floor.

Mr Payne said: "It is significant that Pc Booth did not immediately ask to speak to one of the sergeants to explain his presence at the flat."

He said that although 36-year-old Miss A was an alcoholic, ex-drug addict with a string of convictions for dishonesty, and Pc Booth was of exemplary previous character, this did not mean the panel would automatically believe his account.

Mr Payne said the panel found it was "unlikely" an officer would go to the lengths Pc Booth said he had done to get the information he described from a woman who had not given him anything up to that point.

The chairman said Pc Booth's actions were aggravated by Miss A's vulnerability, as she was a victim of domestic violence as well as an alcoholic former drug user.

Mr Payne said the officer's behaviour was "sexually motivated and exploited the power imbalance between them".

He said: "Pc Booth's behaviour fell a long way below the high standards the public rightly expect of police officers."

The hearing heard Pc Booth, who is from Castleford, had been with West Yorkshire Police for 14 years - five as a community support officer and then nine as an officer.

He denied all the accusations against him during the hearing, which was held at a police station in Wakefield with a video link for press and public at another station in Normanton, seven miles away.

Nicholas Walker, representing Pc Booth, argued that his client should be given a final written warning.

Mr Walker said: "The consequences to him are likely to be ruinous".

The hearing has heard how the officer's father was also a police officer, and Mr Walker said: "He comes from a proud local tradition and a proud local policing tradition."

He said: "He is a decent and committed community officer."

The barrister added: "He is someone who has made a lot of difference to people in his locality."

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