Public urged to report sexually inappropriate police after Snapchat and sex scandals

Detective Chief Superintendent Oz Khan, Head of West Yorkshire Polices Professional Standards Directorate,
Detective Chief Superintendent Oz Khan, Head of West Yorkshire Polices Professional Standards Directorate,

West Yorkshire Police have urged the public to report any police employees that have misused their position of trust.

This follows two gross misconduct hearings that took place in 2018, including a case where a police officer sent sexual messages to a 14-year-old girl on Snapchat.

PC Ian Bell, 46, was sacked by a disciplinary panel after sending messages to a girl he met in a children's home when he was off-duty and drunk.

Claire Watson, the legal representative of the force's Professional Standards Directorate, said that the married police officer sent the young girl messages that included references to seeing her in a towel, questions about whether she was taking drugs at parties and whether she liked sex.

Adam Birkby, representing PC Bell said it was a case of “drunken idiocy” and PC Bell insisted he was not acting out of a "sexual motive."

He was dismissed without notice for the offence after 23 years of service.

The second incident was also a case of abuse of position for a sexual purpose.

A special constable contacted a woman on social media who he had met due to her being a witness in an ongoing criminal investigation and developed a sexual relationship with her.

He resigned from the police force but a misconduct hearing was still held which found that he would have been dismissed without notice if he had still been a serving officer.

An internal campaign and mandatory training have since been launched within the police force to raise awareness of abuse of position for a sexual purpose.

It also explained what can and should be reported.

Detective Chief Superintendent Oz Khan, Head of West Yorkshire Police’s Professional Standards Directorate, said: “Police employees occupy a position of trust and it is vital that any abuse of position by a police officer or staff member is investigated.

“It doesn’t matter whether someone has come into contact with the police as a victim, witness or suspect for an offence, they should expect any police officer or staff member that they come into contact with to act professionally and in line with the Code of Ethics.”

He added that the issue is not unique to West Yorkshire and only a small number of individuals would overstep professional boundaries.

Dt Ch Supt Khan continued: “Victims of abuse of position may not always see themselves as a victim and we need anyone with concerns about a police employee’s conduct to report it to us so that we can ensure it is investigated and, if appropriate, that that police officer or staff member’s employment is terminated.

“We know people may have concerns about contacting the police to report an issue with the police but I would like to reassure them that we have specialist officers who are dedicated to conducting these kind of investigations and their report will be dealt with sensitively. There are also options available to report incidents to independent charity Crimestoppers or the Independent Office for Police Conduct."

Anyone wishing to report an abuse of position can contact the Professional Standards team by either calling the confidential line 01924 292114 or emailing psd@westyorkshire.pnn.police.uk