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Police officers sacked after racist and sexist language

Hampshire Constabulary has fired three officers from the serious organised crime unit (SOCU) because of gross misconduct. Concerns raised by a whistle-blower came about after their ‘lads’ pad’ was secretly bugged.

An enquiry panel was told of a catalogue of homophobic, sexist, and racist language along with commentary that has left many people, including Hampshire chief constable, asking how this was allowed to happen.

Two other detectives, namely commanding officer Tim Ireson and PC Craig Bannerman would also have been fired had they not already left the force.

Dismissed without notice are DS Oliver Lage, DS Gregory Wilcox, and PC James Oldfield. A final written warning was given to trainee detective constable Andrew Ferguson.

Chief constable Olivia Pinkney stated that during the hearing they were told of a ‘catalogue of racist, sexual and homophobic language’ with a commentary which left them shocked. Understandably, people now have questions about how this was allowed to happen.

The chief constable said that the public has a right to expect the highest standards from staff and officers who are entrusted to keep them safe. Policing should be built upon the values of professionalism along with courage, compassion, and integrity.

The officers who were dismissed had failed miserably to deliver on that promise. They had vowed to uphold the fundamental rights of people.

They had further vowed to equally respect all people. This oath was taken when they accepted the office of constable.

While the six officers apologised, one of them stated that he felt they were being made an example of. A total of 20 officers and staff from the SOCU North Unit faced disciplinary action.

The misconduct hearing which took place at the Eastleigh headquarters found that there was in place a ‘toxic and abhorrent culture’ which had been developed by officers when addressing black people, women, disabled, gay, transgender, immigrants, and foreign nationals.

Chairman of the disciplinary panel John Basset said that police officers, working either as individuals or as part of a unit, cannot select their own standards to meet. It is not an option for members of a particular unit to disregard any standards to become a ‘more cohesive’ unit.

The panel believed the findings were the opposite of what the public expects. They were further the antithesis of what was expected regarding the standards of public behaviour. The conduct of the officers was shameful.

Shared on a WhatsApp group were explicit fake pornographic images of the royal family. Recordings were produced of comments describing women as ‘sl**s’ and ‘whores’ with one comment saying that the only black officer in the unit had ‘arrived from Africa in a crate.’

Hampshire Police Federation Chair Zoe Wakefield commented that the behaviour of the dismissed detectives should not seen as the ‘norm’ and should not tarnish the dedication and hard work of other officers.

Their outdated and offensive views have no place in society. They certainly did not have any place in the police force.

A further step was taken to ensure that the officers who were fired would have their names placed on a public list of officers who had been banned from the service.

Chief constable Pinkney concluded by saying that when the public sees that this type of behaviour is not acceptable, and when it does happen the force takes positive action, the police force would be viewed as open and transparent, no matter how hard that may be.

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