A former police sergeant who used racist and homophobic language in messages to a fellow officer with whom he was having an affair has been found guilty of gross misconduct.
The male sergeant used the N-word and a homophobic slur in phone messages with the female colleague, a misconduct hearing was told on Tuesday.
The chief constable of Hampshire police, Olivia Pinkney, who chaired the hearing, said the former officer, identified only as X, would have been dismissed had he not resigned from the force.
She said: “The nature of these messages is deeply offensive and fell well below the standard our community rightly expects and lets down the constabulary and colleagues.” Pinkney ruled the officer should be added to a list of those barred from rejoining the force.
There have been a number of high-profile disciplinary hearings involving Hampshire police officers in recent months.
In December, six members of the force’s serious organised crime unit were found guilty of gross misconduct after a covert bug recorded them regularly making offensive remarks, including wishing death on foreigners. An investigation found that part of the office where a black officer worked was called “Africa corner”.
Earlier this month, a highly experienced former police officer, Simon Hawxwell, was found guilty of gross misconduct after he choked a new female colleague, brandished scissors in her face and aimed highly sexualised insults at her.
The messages were sent by Sgt X to the female colleague in 2015 and 2016 but have only just emerged, a delay Pinkney said was regrettable.
Officer X argued the messages were private and did not amount to gross misconduct. He did not attend the hearing but instructed his Police Federation representative, Moray Anderson, to say the proceedings infringed his right to a private life under article eight of the Human Rights Act.
Anderson asked for Sgt X not to be named on the barred list to avoid the “public shame” this would lead to.
Other recent disciplinary hearings in Hampshire have included that of PC Jonathan Finch, who was sacked after exposing himself on video while in uniform and on duty. Another officer was dismissed for using derogatory terms for members of the Gypsy and Irish Traveller communities.
Speaking after the hearing, Hampshire police deputy chief constable, Sara Glen said: “We will not tolerate the use of any offensive language, no matter when or where it is said, and will take the strongest possible action against this kind of behaviour. A lot of work has been done to ensure we continue to be inclusive of all, and to make sure colleagues feel empowered to challenge unprofessional conduct.”
Tony Bunday, the unsuccessful Labour candidate for the role of Hampshire police and crime commissioner in last month’s election, said: “I have had experience working with the police for over 40 years. I do not think these attitudes are as widespread as they once were.
“But they remain too prevalent and can continue out of sight. There is a continued need for vigilance and we must ensure that all processes governing recruitment, training, appraisal, promotion and audit are as robust as they can be. I believe this chief constable has shown that tackling this behaviour is a priority.”